Library filed under Legal from Oregon
Nathan Baker, staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said that his group's primary concern was that the way the rules were adopted shut out the public and made it difficult for citizens to participate. "That's never a good thing," he said. "There needs to be transparency and an open public process."
Friends of the Columbia Gorge said in a statement that the ruling is likely to affect two projects: a wind farm along the Deschutes River and a natural gas-powered electrical generating plant in Umatilla County, both of which the group says benefited from the 2017 rule change the court now says was improper. "As a result of today's ruling, the permission to build two specific projects has now expired," Friends said.
An Oregon Supreme Court ruling could bring an end to permits for two big energy projects in Eastern Oregon and eight more statewide. The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council in October 2017 adopted a swifter, less public method to amend permits, or site certificates, for wind farms, thermal power plants and other large energy facilities. While the traditional “type A” review process involved public notices and hearings, the new “type B” process cut out the public involvement, including allowing interested parties to request a contested case proceeding. Type B also required staff to issue decisions as soon as possible.
Today the Oregon Supreme Court held in favor of a coalition of nine conservation organizations, invalidating rules adopted in 2017 by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) that had dramatically reduced transparency and discouraged public participation in permitting decisions for large power plants throughout Oregon. Today’s legal victory is also expected to terminate the previously issued permits for two controversial power projects, the Summit Ridge Wind Farm proposed in Wasco County, along the Deschutes river, and the Perennial Wind Chaser Station, a natural gas power plant proposed in Umatilla County.
The Summit Ridge Wind Farm was granted a site certificate by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC or Council) on August 19, 2011. The applicant now seeks a 4th amendment to the certificate that extends the start construction timeline another two years. A host of objections have been raised about the project. This page includes comments by K. Shawn Smallwood PhD outlining environmental concerns with the project’s wildlife surveys and analysis. The Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Oregon Wild, and others present their own comments. The procedural background information and an excerpt of the comments filed with the Council are provided below. The full documents can be downloaded from the links on this page.
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.
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.
In this important ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, the court vacated the Secretary of the Interior’s approval of the proposed Steens Mountain wind project which would have sited up to 69 turbines and a 230 kv transmission line in area critical for sage grouse. The order is provided below and can also be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
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.
The Ninth District Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and rejected a wind turbine project on Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon. The 104-megawatt project proposed by Columbia Energy Partners would have erected 70 wind turbines and a high-capacity transmission line on Steens Mountain. The approximately 100 MW Echanis project would be sent power to Southern California as part of an agreement with Southern California Edison. The project also included a high-capacity transmission lines that cut across potential sage grouse habitat within the protected Steens Cooperative Project. A summary of the order is provided below. The full decision can be found by clicking the links on this page. Also attached to this page are the legal arguments presented by the government and by the environmental groups from March 2016.
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.
Daniel Brian Williams filed a claim of statutory nuisance, common-law nuisance, and trespass to land agains Invenergy LLC in relation to the operating Willow Creek Energy wind farm consisting of 48 turbines near Willaims property. His original claim can be found here. The final ruling by the court can be accessed by clicking the links on this page. Ultimately, the court denied Willams' claims for nuisance per se, statutory nuisance, and trespass.
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.
This complaint was filed in US District Court in reference to Invenergy's Willow Creek wind energy facility, Invenergy's furst project in the Sttae of Oregon. THe project which consists of 48 turbines with a maximum output of 78 megawatts became operational in December 2008. Noise complaint were ongoing since before the project was fully operational. An excerpt of the complaint is provided below. The full complaint can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.