Green Groups in America Sue To Stop California Wind Project That Threatens Condor

Three American national environmental groups this week have sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over its [singlepic id=311 w=435 h=580 float= right] approval of a planned NextEra Energy Resources wind farm in the Tehachapi region of California that state and federal wildlife officials had warned threatens the security of the critically endangered California condor.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club had also sued Kern County last October over its green-lighting of the 300-megawatt North Sky River project.

Last May Kern County concluded that NextEra’s 300-megawatt North Sky River project posed a low risk to the condor, stating that no birds had been detected within 18 miles of the site. Then on July 18 two condors flew near the site and possibly directly over it, according to their GPS signals. Although the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] urged the county to withhold its approval, the project received the go-ahead on Sept. 13. A month later the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity sued to overturn that decision. A NextEra spokesman declined to comment, citing the litigation.

In the suit filed Friday (13 April 2012) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, the environmental groups asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop construction of North Sky River. They argue that the BLM had violated the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws by failing to adequately consider the impact of the wind farm on condors, golden eagles and other protected wildlife when it leased the project site to NextEra, the Florida-based energy developer.

“An existing wind project adjacent to the North Sky River Project site, Pine Tree Wind Farm, which is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water, has one of the highest avian fatality rates in the nation,” the suit states. “The North Sky River Project will utilize more turbines than the Pine Tree facility, and the North Sky River Project site contains better riparian and foraging habitat for eagles and other avian species than the Pine Tree site. Fatality rates for the North Sky River Project are expected to equal or exceed those reported for the Pine Tree site.”

A BLM representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

The iconic California condor was on the brink of extinction in 1987 when the surviving 22 birds in the wild were taken into captivity. A successful breeding program allowed North America’s largest bird to be returned to the wild and the current population has reached 400, with half the condors living in the wild.

The condor has begun to re-colonize its historic range in the Tehachapi, a territory that is also undergoing a wind farm-building boom that has attracted investors like Google.

Introduction of offence of vicarious liability for raptor persecution in England

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1 comment to Green Groups in America Sue To Stop California Wind Project That Threatens Condor

  • John Miles

    The money boys do not care about wildlife. Where was the environmental assessment telling the developers this site was not suitable due to the condors!! Like so may of these so called environmental consultants they take the money and run. Britain is a wash with these people. Some are former RSPB staff!