Pine Tree Wind Farm: DWP Votes

Posted by ardeidae on April 21, 2005

Original Post
Update #1
Update #2: The EIR

On Tuesday, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power voted and approved the Environmental Impact Report for the Pine Tree Wind Project near Mojave, California. The project could generate a lot of power for Los Angeles, but at what price? The DWP believes the final version of their EIR contains enough research to accurately assess the impact on migratory birds.

In response to avian concerns, LADWP completed additional avian surveys in fall 2004 and winter 2005. An avian specialist determined the site of the project is not a major pathway or stopover for migrating birds. In addition, the avian studies will continue through this spring and early summer, and a qualified ornithologist will monitor bird mortality incidents for one year following the first delivery of power. The EIR contains language that requires LADWP to make operational changes if there are disproportionately high levels of bird deaths compared to other turbines on the site.

“Additional avian surveys” refers to five 30-minute visits, none of which were conducted during fall migration or at night for nocturnal migrants. Also, the last sentence only addresses what happens if a particular turbine shows high mortality rates compared to others on the site. It doesn’t say anything about what the plan is if the death rates of the entire site are high. Beakspeak received an email from Garry George, First Vice President and Conservation Chair at the Los Angeles Audubon Society, noting that they are challenging the DWP’s findings.

LA Audubon has already engaged a CEQA attorney (California Environmental Quality Act) to sue DWP based on the inadequacies of the EIR. That suit will be filed within 30 days of the vote to approve the EIR. Santa Monica Bay has offered financial support and we will seek financial support from other chapters as well.

Green power is a wonderful idea and this will be a great benefit to the people of Los Angeles if there’s no adverse affect on the local and migrant wildlife, and nature in general. But if this project goes up and it turns out that there’s a high volume of migrating birds being chopped to bits by these turbines, what happens then? Does the DWP just turn off a $162 million project?

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