Indian reservation

East County Group Sues to Stop Wind Project on Campo Indian Reservation


Wind turbines dot the landscape along Interstate 8 in eastern San Diego County. (Michael Schuerman / KPBS)

One of the largest renewable energy projects to come up in San Diego County is trapped in a second lawsuit alleging environmental violations.

The stake is a construction project of 60 wind turbines on the Indian reserve of Campo as well as a substation and a switching station on private land near the boulevard.

East County resident Donna Tisdale and her group, Backcountry Against Dumps, sued San Diego Superior Court this month to quash the project’s unanimous approval by the county oversight board in March. .


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The lawsuit says the county’s environmental review does not fully analyze the project’s impact on noise, wildfire hazards, golden eagles and groundwater in the area. He also claims that the project goes against zoning rules.

Tisdale hopes the lawsuit will prevent construction of the wind farm.

“I wish that when people talk about wind turbines and solar projects, they stop and consider where they are offered and how that will impact this community at Ground Zero,” she said.

Through a spokesperson, the county declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Developer Terra-Gen, who did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, said the Campo Wind project would provide clean energy to more than 70,000 homes and tens of millions of dollars for the gang. Campo of the Indians of the Diegueño mission. The tribe agreed to lease land from the company for the turbines for at least 25 years.

The location of the Campo Wind Project on the Campo Indian Reservation is shown on this San Diego County Development Environmental Review map. Click here for a more detailed map. (Courtesy San Diego County)

Craig Pospisil, who leads the company’s wind development efforts, told supervisors before approving the proposed facilities for the private land that the project is “probably one of the county’s most important decisions to combat the climate change and mitigate its impact on some of our most vulnerable communities.

Pospisil said the turbines would create enough energy to displace about 58,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. That’s roughly the equivalent of taking 12,600 cars off the road, according to a US Environmental Protection Agency calculator.

Before supervisors voted, board chairman Nathan Fletcher said few shares in the county received unanimous support. He said it “warms my heart” to move forward with the project as it will help achieve a target of 100% renewable energy, comes with a working agreement and has a tribal support.

East County and renewable energy projects

Dozens of wind turbines already dot the sun-drenched, windswept ridges and valleys in the southeastern corner of the county, including on the Campo Reserve on Interstate 8.

Other projects are underway as renewable energy developers seek to meet California’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2045: within 13 miles of the Campo Wind project, four solar projects and two projects. wind turbines are in preparation.

In addition to 60 wind turbines, the Campo Wind project would add weather towers, water collection and a septic system, as well as transmission lines. The turbines would also be connected to the power grid via a new substation and switching station on private land northeast of the reserve, a project dubbed the Boulder Brush facility.

Tisdale, a frequent player in backcountry energy project struggles, lives with her husband, Joe, on a Boulevard ranch that shares a half-mile limit with the reserve and the proposed wind project. She likes to say that they have lived a combined 100 years in the area.

She fears that the turbines will disturb the calm and serenity of the neighborhood and damage the value of the couple’s home. She also fears that the turbines could harm the health of her 82-year-old husband, who has a pacemaker.

Donna Tisdale is shown at her Boulevard ranch, September 28, 2015. (Nicholas McVicker / KPBS)

Tisdale spoke to county leaders about her concerns at town halls as chair of the Boulevard Community Planning Group, which advises the county on land use decisions. But when the supervisors approved the project, she said, they didn’t even mention the burden on the community.

“It’s just a real slap in the face,” she said.

Her latest lawsuit is the second she and her husband have filed on the wind project. Last July, she filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that the US Bureau of Indian Affairs had violated the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Bird Treaty Act. migrants and the national law on environmental policy by approving the lease of the Campo tribe to house the turbines.

The judge has set a hearing in the case for May 13.

Tisdale also successfully asked the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider its earlier ruling that the 586-foot turbines would not pose a hazard to air navigation. The agency told Tisdale’s attorney in a December letter that a new review would be carried out due to “past errors in the aeronautical study process.”

The Campo tribe wants the project

Marcus Cuero, president of the Campo Indian Band of the Diegueño Mission, said opposition from Tisdale and some members of his tribe has complicated the process and is delaying construction of the project.

“I don’t understand the whole reason why they are against it,” he said. “In my opinion, it adds value to the community. ”

The tribe voted to approve the lease, which has not been made public, in April 2018.

By March, Terra-Gen had already paid the tribe over $ 1 million and was due to make another payment this month. It also awarded 15 scholarships and gave 14 jobs to tribal members, according to court records.

Cuero said news source he sees development as an opportunity to fund tribal priorities like internet access, housing, health care and education, although no plan has been set on how to spend the rental income .

“We want to be self-sufficient, and I think this project is helping us in the right direction towards greater self-reliance,” he said.

Wind turbines dot the landscape along Interstate 8 in eastern San Diego County. (Michael Schuerman / KPBS)

But not all 310 members of the Campo tribe support the lease.

After the tribe’s vote, Michelle Cuero, whose husband is the president’s brother, helped draft a petition against the wind power project that 65 tribe members signed on to. They claim they had no say in when the tribe approved the lease.

For Cuero, the opposition is personal. She said wind turbines are expected to dominate her home, disrupting the property she inherited from her father and which she planned to pass on to her four children and 10 grandchildren, most of whom live on the reserve.

“What I want is our land,” she said. “They’re not going to pay us enough money to move and abandon our reservation to move somewhere else. How can we do that? So my deal is just to stop it and let us live and let live.

A Superior Court hearing in Tisdale’s lawsuit against the county is scheduled for December 10.







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