A federal court has killed a large wind energy project in southeast Oregon over concerns about a declining sage grouse population that needs the area to breed.
Articles filed under Legal from Oregon
The long‐running case over the impacts of proposed industrial‐scale wind energy development on Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon was put to an end Tuesday afternoon by order of a federal court. The court vacated the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of an industrial‐scale wind project that would have forever marred one of Oregon’s most cherished high desert natural areas.
The appeals court decision said the BLM completed no surveys on whether sage grouse were at the site during the winter. "The inaccurate information and unsupported assumptions materially impeded informed decision-making and public participation," the decision said.
Both groups, which had appealed U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman's 2013 decision to throw out the case more than two years ago, have long argued the Steens Mountains location is not a proper site for an industrial-scale wind farm. They argued the project would have destroyed the grouse's nearby winter concentration areas and severed a unique habitat corridor that is essential to the survival of neighboring grouse populations.
According to the environmental groups, a three-judge panel writing for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had erred in deciding not to survey for sage-grouse at the project site.
Federal regulators did not adequately address whether a proposed wind-turbine project in southeastern Oregon would adversely impact the area's greater sage grouse population, the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday.
The federal appeals court met Thursday to consider a challenge to the proposed construction of up to 69 wind turbines on the Steens Mountain, the biggest fault-rock mountain in North America, located in the high desert of Harney County.
An Oregon wind farm sued Portland General Electric Co., demanding that it buy the wind power on a schedule approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Williams filed a lawsuit Friday against Invenergy, the Illinois-based company behind the wind farm, for non-economic losses up to $5 million, as well as economic losses -- mostly related to property value depreciation -- for $170,000. Since Invenergy began construction on the 50 wind turbines at Willow Creek in 2008, it has fought in the courts over noise compliance.