On National Public Lands Day, September 29, a funeral was held near Ocotillo, along the border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, not for a human being, but rather for the desert itself.
Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express wind energy project is destroying virgin ocotillo forests, Native American burial and cremation sites, along the southeastern border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and effectively ringing the small desert community of Ocotillo with more than 100 wind turbines that stand 450 feet high. Negative effects on birds, bats, and other wildlife is likely, along with impacts on recreation and destruction of desert vistas that are crucial to desert tourism.
The Obama administration's Department of the Interior has pushed an agressive energy policy that DOI Secretary Ken Salazar has likened to being on steroids. Through the Bureau of Land Management, a federal department this publication has determined is operating unethically, if not illegally, with regards to this power development initiative, environmental laws, laws for the protection of Native American cultural and sacred sites, and a meaningful opportunity for public input in the process, have all been disregarded and abused.
Lawsuits have been filed by a number of tribes regarding the Ocotillo project, but the destruction continues on site, sometimes night and day, in an attempt to obtain taxpayer-funded incentives and hopes that by the time the legal system may put a stop to the project, it may be too late and the project will already be in place.
The Sun Runner opposes industrial solar and wind development on desert habitat and Native American cultural and spiritual sites. There are clear harmful environmental consequences, loss of Native American and other historical and cultural resources, and significant and lasting damage to the desert's tourism and recreation industry, a vital economic development factor for our region, being caused by the Obama administration's energy programs.