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MEETING ON PROPOSED FEES FOR IMPERIAL DUNES SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

 

August 6, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The Bureau of Land Management Desert Advisory Committee (DAC) will meet Saturday, Aug. 17 to consider a fee proposal for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. The Council will meet from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Riverside Marriott Hotel, 3400 Market St., Riverside, CA 92501. The meeting is open to the public. However, discussion is limited to BLM staff and committee members.

LAS VEGAS PREMIERE SET TO EXPOSE BLM MISMANAGEMENT

 

Secretaries of Interior and Energy invited to showing of "Who Are My People?"

By Roy L. Hales

August 6, 2013 (Las Vegas) – It is no coincidence that the Las Vegas premiere of “Who Are My People?” is on August 13. National Clean Energy Summit 6.0 takes place the same day.

FUTURE OF WILD HORSES LOCALLY IS IN PERIL: EVICTION NOTICED SERVED

 

 

Update July 15:  The property owner has granted a brief stay to allow Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza more time to relocate the herd.  The nonprofit group asks public help to contact federal and county elected officials and the Bureau of Land Management to urge that relocation on public lands in San Diego be approved and expedited.  Actions that could be taken include the county adding these wild horses to its protected species list and the BLM approving the horses for relocation to the Beauty Mountain area in northeast San Diego County.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Plans to restore San Diego’s heritage herd of wild horses to public lands is in peril. An eviction notice has been served on the nonprofit organization that recently found and brought back the last descendants of San Diego’s original wild horses.  Unless the property owner backs down, the horses will be evicted on Monday, July 15.

WORLD PREMIER: DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CONFLICTS BETWEEN MULTI-NATIONAL ENERGY COMPANIES AND NATIIVE AMERICAN TRIBES DEBUTS IN SAN DIEGO JUNE 22

 

“You can’t have ‘green’ without social justice.” – filmmaker Robert Lundahl

June 20, 2013 (San Diego)--EMMY® Award winning filmmaker Robert Lundahl takes a hard look at U.S. energy policy and its effects on desert ecosystems, Native American tribes and communities across the West. The film has special relevance locally, where major energy projects in San Diego and Imperial Counties have sparked legal actions as tribal members seek to protect their heritage and sacred sites from destruction.

The filmmaker and Native American elders from California, Nevada & Arizona will be present at the premier of  “Who Are My People?”  The San Diego premier is a special presentation by Activist San Diego on Saturday evening, June 22, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at. Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, 3900 Vermont Street, San Diego, 92103. 

READER’S EDITORIAL: SMOKING BLUNDERBUSS—ILLEGAL FAILURE TO CONSULT WITH TRIBAL PEOPLES DOOMS GIANT SOLAR AND WIND PLANTS ACROSS WEST

 

By Robert Lundahl

March 10, 2013 (Solana Beach) — Chris Clarke's recent article deconstructs a video clip from the film, "Who Are My People?" http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/filmmaker-blm-lax-on-native-consultation-over-solar-projects.html It is important for the public (us) to get our heads around the idea that the federal government is legally responsible to Native people. 

In this case to uphold processes involving consultation when construction projects impact historic grounds, where there was a village, burials, where there is an area historically, or in the present day used by Native peoples, in spiritual or traditional practices. 

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: FOUR-WHEELING INTO MCCAIN VALLEY

 

February 17, 2013 (McCain Valley) – Melody Ponchot of Boulevard sent this beautiful set of photos from an early morning adventure she took with a friend, Donna Tisdale, after the snowfall last weekend.

“Four wheeling in the snow to McCain Valley is so much fun,” she observed. 

This pristine public land, one of East County’s most beautiful recreational areas, is slated to be razed for construction of Tule Wind, an industrial wind facility approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management despite overwhelming public opposition.

 

OCOTILLO RESIDENTS ARE SEEING RED OVER LIGHT AND NOISE ISSUES

 

Developer failed to provide system that keeps lights off except when planes approach

By Miriam Raftery

February 11, 2013 (Ocotillo)--Why are Ocotillo residents being subjected to 94 turbines each with red lights flashing all night long into windows of homes?  View videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AHA7u4AurQ , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP7OeAP58So

FEDERAL JUDGE HEARS QUECHAN TRIBE’S CASE ON OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT HARM TO SACRED SITES

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 21, 2013 (San Diego) – On Friday, January 18, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Quechan tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation against the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Pattern Energy and other defendants.

The suit contends that the federal government failed to protect Native American cultural resources, including sacred sites, when it allowed the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility to be built. Moreover, Quechan contends that the federal government's reclassification of protected lands to accommodate the wind project was arbitrary--and that a similar decision to industrialize almost any public lands regardless of damage to resources could be done if the government's action is allowed to stand. 

WILD HORSES IN RAMONA: THE COYOTE CANYON HERITAGE HERD

By Ariele Johannson

January 15, 2013 (Ramona)--On a warm spring morning in the Upper Borrego Valley in 2003, the last 29 wild horses in East County--were rounded up by helicopters and driven into pens. They were then removed from Coyote Canyon and trucked to a sanctuary in South Dakota through a snow storm with temperatures 4º below zero. 

PROTESTERS HOLD FUNERAL TO MOURN ‘DEATH OF DESERT’ IN OCOTILLO, NOTE IRONY OF PUBLIC LANDS DAY

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2012 (Ocotillo) – “This project is completely wrong and it’s unethical,” said Anita Nicklen, one of dozens protesting on National Public Lands Day to draw attention to the destruction of public land in Ocotillo. “It’s our land and they’re building on public land. The desert is crying and weeping and bleeding.”

BLISTERING DESERT SOLAR MEETING: DESTRUCTION OF NATIVE AMERICAN SACRED SITES AND LACK OF CONSULTATION DOMINATE

BLM Begins Rio Mesa Project EIS Process to Strong Opposition Over Desert Solar Siting

Story and photo by Robert Lundahl

September 17, 2012 (Blythe, California)--The Bureau of Land Management scoping meeting for the Rio Mesa Solar Plant outside Blythe, California likely caused heartburn for the BLM, applicant Brightsource, and related subcontractors and agencies last Thursday.

TWO NEW LAWSUITS FILED OVER OCOTILLO WIND

By Miriam Raftery

September 13, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Two new lawsuits were filed September 11, 2012 against federal officials and the U.S. government seeking an injunction to halt construction at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express industrial wind project. 

One suit targets U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act and failing to protect endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep.  Active signs of bighorn activity on the site have been spotted as recently as this week and photos clearly document recent sitings in the heart of the project.

The second suit takes aim at Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of Interior officials for ignoring  California Desert Conservation Area protections passed by Congress to conserve fragile desert areas for future generations. This suit alleges that officials also ignored many other laws intended to protect natural and cultural resources, views, archaeological sites, and the health of local residents.

OCOTILLO GETS FIRST DAY IN COURT ON WIND TURBINE CHALLENGE

By Nadin Abbott

September 8, 2012 (San Diego)—There was tension in the air as the two legal teams got ready to present their case before District Judge William Q. Hayes.

Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship (CARES) lawyer, William Pate, observed, “This case is not about energy policies or government programs, it’s about the rule of law.” Pate argued that the government has to be ruled by laws, and that “it is no more complicated than that.” He also argued that government agencies, in this case the Bureau of Land Management, are run by people and that people make mistakes.

BLM PROCEEDS TO FINALIZE SOLAR PLAN THIS MONTH DESPITE PROTESTS

 

September 8, 2012 (San Diego) – The BLM expects to finalize its plan to fast –track solar projects as early as this month while ignoring written protests filed by several environmental groups (as previously reported by ECM http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/10908).  The projects affect more than a quarter-million acres across six Southwestern states, including California.

SIX BRUSH FIRES CAUSED BY SHOOTING FIREARMS IN EAST COUNTY; CAL FIRE ASKS BLM TO BAN SHOOTING DURING FIRE SEASON

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Revelations that six wildfires in the past six weeks have been caused by recreational shooting in East County has caused a firestorm of controversy.  

Cal-Fire, joined by residents of  Dulzura, Potrero and other areas bordering the Otay Wilderness area have asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to ban shooting on its properties within San Diego County for the duration of this year’s expected severe fire season.  

BLM RESPONDS TO ECM INQUIRY ON NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS AT WIND SITES

By Miriam Raftery

July 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – After forensic dog teams identified dozens of potential ancient human remain sites at energy projects on Bureau of Land Management property in Ocotillo and McCain Valley, as ECM reported this week, ECM asked the BLM what steps it intends to take to assure that any Native American remains are protected.

Two officials from the BLM have responded to our inquiry.

LANDMARK SETTLEMENT REQUIRES FEDS TO REVISIT PLAN FOR COAL-FRIENDLY ENERGY CORRIDORS ACROSS WEST

 

 Feds Urged to Avoid Sensitive Lands, Support Renewable Energy;  

Critics contend damaging impacts of renewables ignored by settlement

By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2012 (San Francisco)— A coalition of conservation organizations and a western Colorado county has reached a landmark settlement agreement with federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Department of Energy, requiring the agencies to revise a Bush-era plan creating energy corridors in the West. 

The agreement, filed in federal court in San Francisco, requires the agencies to revise a “West-wide Energy Corridors” plan to facilitate renewable energy, avoid environmentally sensitive areas and prevent webs of pipelines and power lines across the West.

FEDERAL AGENCIES SUED OVER FAILURE TO DISCLOSE DATA ON WILDLIFE DEATHS FROM WIND TURBINES, CORRESPONDENCE WITH WIND INDUSTRY

 
July 1, 2012 (Washington, D.C.)—Federal wildlife agencies are suppressing information about wind energy projects’ negative impacts on America’s wildlife, claims a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit American Bird Conservancy (ABC) June 26 in Washington D.C. District Court.
 
"It’s ridiculous that Americans have to sue in order to find out what their government is saying to wind companies about our wildlife—a public trust,” said Kelly Fuller, Wind Campaign Coordinator for ABC. “ABC is concerned that many of these projects have the potential to take a devastating toll on songbirds, majestic eagles, and threatened and endangered species,” she added.

FOREST SERVICE, BLM ISSUE PLAN TO ELIMINATE FERAL PIGS WITH HELICOPTER HUNTING, TRAPS AND DOGS

Public has until July 18 to submit comments

June 24, 2012 (San Diego)--Cleveland National Forest (CNF) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have released an Environmental Assessment (EA) for feral pig management on public lands in San Diego, Riverside and Orange Counties, as well as on the Capitan Grande Indian Reservation.

Feral pigs, which are not native to our region, have caused extensive damage by rooting that destroys riparian waterways, habitat and forage for wildlife. The plan includes 600,000 acres of public lands, including many in East County.

INTERIOR DEPT. REPORT SLAMS BLM FOR POOR MONITORING, LACK OF FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AT WIND AND SOLAR PROJECTS ON PUBLIC LANDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

 
June 24, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – A scathing new report  by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Inspector General highlights “significant failures” by the federal Bureau of Land Managment  in its stewardship over  more than 30,000 wind energy right-of-way (ROW) acres and another 31,000 acres of solar energy ROW  sites.  View the complete report at http://docs.wind-watch.org/BLM-Renewable-Energy-Program.pdf.

GROUP FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST PATTERN ENERGY AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, ALLEGES "ILLEGAL" ACTIONS OVER OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Government accused of illegally approving “ineligible” project that failed to meet minimum federal wind speed standards

Violations of other laws alleged, including discrimination against low-income residents

June 20, 2012 (Ocotillo) –A fourth lawsuit seeking to halt the Ocotillo Express wind facility has been filed in federal court.  The plaintiff in this case, Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship, filed suit yesterday against Pattern Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management and top government officials.

The suit, which seeks a permanent enjoinment or halt to the project, differs from prior lawsuits filed by other groups on several fronts.

SUIT FILED TO HALT OCOTILLO WIND AS COALITION HOLDS PROTESTS IN SAN DIEGO AND EL CENTRO

 

“This is nothing more than a public land grab for private profit. The BLM is literally giving this away to corporations…This may be out in the desert today, but tomorrow it could be in your backyard…Already over a dozen projects are proposed in San Diego and Imperial County.” – Robert Scheid, Viejas media relations

May 16, 2012 (La Jolla) – At a press conference yesterday outside the gleaming corporate towers occupied by Pattern Energy in La Jolla, a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and outraged citizens urged President Barack Obama to stop fast-tracking of massive energy projects on public lands and halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility immediately.

Heavy equipment has begun grading the site, ripping massive ocotillo cacti out by the roots, burying burrowing owl nesting sites and breaking hearts of the many people who love this  desert land.

ECM contacted the White House to request an interview with President Obama. No response has been received.

APPEALS FILED OVER OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT

By Mia Myklebust
 
April 10, 2012 (Ocotillo)—At least three appeals have been filed over the Imperial County Planning Group’s approval of the Ocotillo Express wind project.  The appeals seek to have the Imperial Valley Board of Supervisors review the decision.   
 
Appeals filed by yesterday’s deadline include the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, California Environmental Law Project, and Boulevard Planning Group Chair Donna Tisdale.

WIND STORM: POTENTIAL RISKS TO RESIDENTS FROM 20-SQUARE-MILE WIND PROJECT PROPOSED FOR OCOTILLO

 

Part III in our exclusive report on the proposed Ocotillo Express Wind project

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Ocotillo)-Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley dreads the prospect of the 456-tall wind turbines that may soon surround his home on three sides-some less than half mile away. 

Whirling blades, each weighing many tons, would be placed atop an active earthquake fault area capable of a 7.0 quake or more.  Fire danger, groundwater impacts, noise, electromagnetic sound waves and ground current are among the potential perils that he fears.

“Our quiet little town of Ocotillo with pristine views of the mountains will be destroyed forever. In return, we have to deal with the possibility of some serious adverse health effects and many other serious problems,” Pelley, an award-winning photojournalist and engineer, told ECM.   

SUPERVISOR JACOB SEEKS SHUT-DOWN OF SUNDAY POWERLINK FLIGHTS DUE TO RESIDENTS’ COMPLAINTS


October 19, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents along the construction route for SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink Project have lodged noise complaints with the County. Now Supervisor Dianne Jacob has asked that the County revoke a waiver given that authorized SDG&E to fly on Sundays and a holiday weekend. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also granted permission for the extended hours on federal BLM lands.

 

“It sounds like the Vietnam War zone out here,” bemoaned Lakeside resident Milt Cyphert, a veteran.

COMMENTS DEADLINE EXTENDED FOR TULE WIND, ECO SUBSTATION & RELATED PROJECT IN EAST COUNTY

February 20, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Public Utilities Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management have extended from February 16 to March 4, 2011 the deadline for public comments on a draft environmental impact report and draft environmental impact statement (DEIR/DEIS) for several controversial and inter-related energy projects proposed for the Jacumba and Boulevard areas.

 

POWERLINK CLEARS HURDLES AT STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS

 

Supervisor Jacob accuses "so-called regulators" of "deliberately covering up the monumental fire danger posed by this line"

By Miriam Raftery

 

September 24, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) –The California Public Utilities Commission and the federal Bureau of Land Management have refused requests for additional environmental review from opponents of the controversial Sunrise Powerlink high-voltage transmission line.

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