Friday, May 27, 2016

Feds Ignored Wind Farm's Impact on Sage Grouse, 9th Circuit Rules

Federal regulators did not adequately address whether a proposed wind-turbine project in southeastern Oregon would adversely impact the area's greater sage grouse population, the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday. After the Bureau of Land Management approved the proposed construction of the Echanis Wind Energy Project on the state's Steens Mountain in Harney County, the environmental group Oregon Natural Desert Association sued the government in Federal Court under the National Environmental Policy Act. The BLM's approval of the project failed to account for the turbines' effects on the mountain's population of sage grouse, a bird listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the environmentalists claimed. Writing for the three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon said that the BLM conducted no surveys to determine whether sage grouse were present at the project's proposed site during the winter months and relied on data from surveys conducted at lower elevations. "A fundamental flaw infects this reasoning," Berzon said...more

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