Opponents of Searchlight Wind Energy project file federal lawsuit

A small group of Nevadans has taken up the cudgel used by environmental activists for years to block pipelines, drilling, dams and sundry construction projects — a federal lawsuit based on environmental protection laws — to fight one of the darlings of the environmentalists — renewable energy.

Earlier this month, attorneys filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada what we will call for the sake of brevity Bundorf v. Salazar. (Searchlight suit) The suit accuses former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of acting in “a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law” when he granted permission for construction of an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

Simulation of what windmills may look it east of Searchlight and near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagle.

The suit alleges the Final Environmental Impact Statement, on which Salazar based his approval, was written by consultants for Searchlight Wind Energy, which is owned by Duke Energy. The suit says the FEIS is a one-sided and an incomplete portrait of the project’s adverse environmental impacts.

Those impacts include the potential killing of and destruction of habitat for desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, bald eagles and assorted migratory birds and bats — not to mention the affects on the human residents who have protested and petitioned in opposition to the wind farm and its 428-foot tall whirling wind turbines with flashing red lights atop each one. The Searchlight town board has twice voted to oppose the project.

But the lawsuit does in fact mention the impact on those residents. It says the FEIS cherry-picked literature, some a decade old, to conclude there will be no negative impact on property values. A recent report by Nevada Policy Research Institute found studies by real estate appraisers that conclude properties within two to three miles of wind turbines had values decline up to nearly 60 percent — with the decreased value being “tantamount to an inverse condemnation, or regulatory taking of private property rights.”

Jim Rogers

Additionally, the suit points out the FEIS fails to evaluate the effect turbines might have on tourism. While the statement selectively claimed the turbines might attract 600-800 visitors, it failed to address whether turbines might reduce the 300,000 visitors who currently are drawn to the open scenery and Lake Mohave.

Nor does the federal report acknowledge the impact on Spirit Mountain and the trails through the area that the local tribes consider sacred.

And never mind the physical impact on residents by the turbines, which produce about 58 decibels of noise. The suit notes that as little as 10 decibels can cause annoyance, stress, irritation and sleep disturbance.

Nor does the FEIS explain where the 83 acre-feet of water to construct the wind farm will come from.

When the project was first proposed by Duke Energy, it included turbines on both the west and east of U.S. Highway 95, the reduced footprint now has turbines only to the east of the highway. Sen. Harry Reid, a reputed friend of Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and recipient of campaign contributions from Rogers, lives west of the highway.

When 550 postcards were sent to Reid opposing the project, he replied with a dismissive letter saying:

“I recognize that the proposed wind project in Searchlight has elicited strong opinions in favor and in opposition from residents and non-residents of Nevada. We are fortunate to live in a state that has sunny skies, strong winds, and abundant geothermal resources on lands that when used properly, will provide for us and our children a cleaner and more efficient future that gives Nevada a chance at energy independence.”

Duke Energy recently forgave a $10 million debt incurred by the Democratic Party while putting on its national convention in Duke’s hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

Du and Reid

The suit also predicts that it is a near certainty that the wind farm would kill golden or bald eagles, which would be a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The project has no “takings” permit as the law requires. A golden eagle was recently found dead at a wind farm near Ely.

Then there are the bats that not only hit the turbine blades, but, as the suit attests, are killed by “batotrauma,” in which the change in air pressure due to the spinning blades causes the blood vessels in bats’ lungs to explode.

The lawsuit asks that Salazar’s decision permitting the project be vacated and the plaintiffs awarded costs and attorney fees.

The case has been assigned to Judge Miranda Du, who assumed the federal bench about a year ago after being nominated by Harry Reid.

The suit has been largely ignored by the local media.

Here are a few links to previous postings:








41 comments on “Opponents of Searchlight Wind Energy project file federal lawsuit

  1. Steve says:

    This isn’t the only thing being mainly ignored by local media.

    Heel if it weren’t for the small cadre of print media reporters and journalists in Carson City, for all we plebes would know the current session of the legislature ended with Steven Brooks arrest in California!

    To the Attorneys representing Judy and Wayne Bundorf, BREAK A LEG!! (this is, after all, a show that must go on)

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    No surprise on the choice of magistrate, no surprise the owner of Duke Energy received favor, no surprise the citizens in the Searchlight area don’t matter, a real surprise is the statement that Harry Reid “lives” in Searchlight. Maybe he considers the house there his dacha, they are big in the socialist countries, but I doubt very much that anyone will anytime soon post a sign saying “HARRY REID SLEPT HERE”.

  3. You are doubtlessly correct, Vernon.

    If Jim Day were still around, I’d suggest thatLurch and the Munchkin cartoon.



  4. Rincon says:

    According to Wikipedia, “The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) is a private non-profit, free-market and limited-government policy research organization based in Las Vegas, Nevada”. This was the organization claiming that property values around wind turbines declined up to 60%. Contrast that with the view of a more neutral group. The Field Guide to Wind Farms and Their Effect on Property Values by the National Association of Realtors appears to be far more balanced and found little impact of wind farms on property values. http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-wind-farms-and-their-effect-on-property-values.

    Once again, it’s amazing how the “facts” presented by extremist groups disagree drastically from those from more sedate sources.

  5. Rincon says:

    Now for eagles: The American Eagle Foundation has a page listing the common causes of death among eagles. Wind turbines are not even mentioned.

  6. Rincon says:

    Noise: Why are 58 decibels from turbines so objectionable when 83 decibels from a train delivering coal over hundreds of miles, are not? 58 decibels is equivalent to an air conditioner from 100 feet.

    BTW, the 10 decibels that the suit claims can cause “annoyance, stress, irritation, and sleep disturbance” is called “barely audible” by Purdue University. These rural Nevadans are sensitive indeed!

  7. Steve says:

    IF you lived in a place as quiet as rural Nevada is most of the time, Rincon, you would truly understand.

    Now show us where those wind farms are located close to existing residential neighborhoods.

    As for Eagles and bats and birds of any feather, the reason those foundations don’t mention turbines is due to the offsets most wind farms are required to buy. Note this one is among at least two that have not had to buy any offsets. Both of them, Tom has listed, are tied into Senator Reid.

  8. Rincon says:

    Altamont is ancient history, Thomas. It was put up in the early 1980’s. It’s a little like claiming that Chernoble proves that nuclear power cannot be safe.

    The data doesn’t agree with you Steve. The #1 killer of bird is windows in buildings with the friendly housecat in a strong #2 position. Windmills, killing an estimated 33,000 birds/year, barely made the top twelve. The family car, at #5, kills an estimated 60 million – 2000 times more!

  9. Steve says:

    I never claimed wind farms were in the top ten of bird killers.

    I said the wind farms Harry is pushing are not buying offsets that remove them from lists and allow for a pre determined number of legal torture/deaths of endangered birds like Eagles.

  10. Steve says:

    And, speaking of ancient history, that chart is from 2003.

  11. Athos says:

    Rinny, you got stock in this green energy boondoggle?

    Or did Harry get your kid some payola, er, a mean a job?

  12. Rincon says:

    Funny Athos, I was just thinking the same thing about your family and the coal industry, but I prefer the industry- financed “massive conservative conspiracy theory” better, of course. It’s far more entertaining!

  13. Athos says:

    The conspiracy, old friend, is the great sucking sound of money leaving the wallets of the people, and going straight into the bank accounts of our elected officials.

    If you have a few minutes, check this out:


  14. Rincon says:

    I agree that it would be a stupid law; if we institute a fossil fuel tax, it needs to be on all sources, not just the 7,000 largest.

    The thrust of the National Review article is bogus. It claims that we can’t make a big enough difference by ourselves. Of course not! Since the U.S. is responsible for 18% of the global greenhouse emissions, it’s obvious that we cannot stop the problem by ourselves. Nobody can. It would require cooperation among countries. All UN members, except Andorra, Canada, South Sudan and the United States are parties to the Kyoto protocol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol

    Almost everyone is willing to cooperate except us, so for us to claim that we can’t make a difference is ridiculous. We do make a difference – a negative one. Our recalcitrance gives nations like China the cover they need to ignore the problem. As with our middle east fiascos, we will continue to garner the hate of the world because we insist on being in everybody else’s face. We accept the concept of majority rule domestically, and interfere with other countries drastically in our efforts to export “democracy,” but internationally, we shun the whole democratic concept, even when nonbinding. What hypocrisy!

  15. Athos says:

    China has signed the Kyoto Protocol. How are they doing with their greenhouse gas emissions?

    C’mon man! How stupid do you have to be, to WANT to follow this path? Is it any wonder that Liberalism is a mental disorder?

  16. Rincon says:

    “In 2010, China became the largest wind energy provider worldwide, with the installed wind power capacity reaching 41.8 GW at the end of 2010, but about a quarter of this was not connected to the grid.[10] According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the development of wind energy in China, in terms of scale and rhythm, is absolutely unparalleled in the world.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_China

    In 2010, China produced 3.39 tons of CO2 per capita while the U.S. produced 22.22, 6 1/2 times as much. producedhttp://unstats.un.org/unsd/environment/air_greenhouse_emissions.htm

    I suppose could resent the fact that China produces about the same emissions in total, but using that standard, think how the people of Luxemburg would feel about us.

    So tell me more about big bad China and mental disorders.

  17. Athos says:




    Now I just cited the NY Times and NPR. I don’t think they’re confused with right wing think tanks, right?

    Maybe China ought to have all those wind turbines blow the smog from their cities, eh?

    I know. You don’t want to look at the Truth. “Green” is your religion and God forbid you’d have to question your own eyes.

    You still sending the high Priest of Gaia (his holiness Algore) your weekly tithe?

  18. Rincon says:

    If you’re telling me how awful and irresponsible China is in general, I agree, but the tremendous air pollution in China is unrelated to their contribution to global warming (although particulates have some short term impact). When we in the U.S. burn a ton of coal or a gallon of gasoline, we produce the exact same amount of CO2 as China.

  19. Athos says:

    Jeez, Rinny, there’s no getting past your devotion to Gaia, is there? If China is such a desirable place for you, why don’t you move to Beijing? You could make a mint selling those attractive face masks (CAUSE THE AIR IS SO BAD, THEY CAN’T BREATHE!)

    It must be the religion, no one can be this oblivious to the obvious!

  20. Rincon says:

    I don’t like China. Their air pollution is horrendous; it just has nothing to do with global warming.

    Extra credit question: Using the best present day (not necessarily commercially available) technology, by what percentage can we reduce the CO2 produced from burning a gallon of gasoline? A) 0 B) 30 c)55

  21. Athos says:

    Answer: why are we demonizing the very air we exhale (and plants need to complete the act of photosynthesis) ?

    Observation: air pollution has nothing to do with global warming. In your world, could air pollution have anything to do with quality of life?

    And subsequently, are you suggesting we sacrifice quality of life, for global warming concerns?

  22. Rincon says:

    In answer to your answer (I assume you’re saying that we’re demonizing CO2): Water is necessary for life, but when the Illinois River is flooding, I could use a little less of it. Same with CO2.

    And your observation: If a man is caught robbing a bank, you charge him with robbery, not forgery. Likewise, the Chinese are killing their own people with poor air quality; nevertheless, they contribute far less per capita to global warming than we do. Doesn’t make ’em better than us. They just don’t have our high standard of living.

    It’s not necessary to sacrifice quality of life nor large amounts of money to address global warming in a reasonable way.

  23. Rincon says:

    Come to think of it, doesn’t anyone want to answer the extra credit question?

  24. Steve says:

    Don’t know the answer. Don’t believe it really matters.

    What happens if all ACC CO2 gets reduced to zero and the temperature continues to rise, for more than 100 years?

    First answer, Keynes said best, “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” Who knew he was predicting Anthropological Climate Change?

  25. Rincon says:

    I think it does matter Steve. I think you would ageree that a knowledge of history is crucial in making good judgements about the issues of the day. Likewise, I believe a knowledge of science is crucial to understanding scientific issues. You guys are an educated group. If you don’t know the answer, I doubt if many others do either. I’m not saying that you are in any way unqualified to have a valid opinion, but one of the hazards I see in my practice is that people often, as I think it was Dick Cheney that said, “don’t know what they don’t know”.

    Cold fusion notwithstanding, the scientific world rarely overstates it’s knowledge if one listens closely. I find it difficult to accept the casual disregard of the findings of a huge number of scientists because people prefer to listen to a small group of rogues that do essentially no research of their own.

    Short term thinking brought us 9/11 and 3 wars. It also has deprived us of the tools we need to improve our economy effectively. I’ll take long term strategy any day. It certainly paid off in my business.

  26. Steve says:

    So short term thinking on the economy would also be a bad thing?

    Where is the balance? Or was Keynes correct?

    You ask a trick question. The only way to reduce CO2 emmissions (per gallon of gas burnt) is to burn less. The real question should be how do we obtain equal power output while burning less?

    Beer lubricates the thought processes once in a while.

  27. Rincon says:

    Nice answer Steve, but I don’t believe it was in any way a trick question. Any high school graduate that took basic chemistry was taught the nature of combustion. Hydrocarbons reacting with oxygen yield carbon dioxide and water.

    In the military, strategy is essential, but tactics are necessary to adapt to new information. I think we agree that the same applies to economics. I also agree with you that grand strategies rarely hold up for long. The benefit of hindsight however, tells me that I was right about energy when I was in college. Three wars plus 9/11 and homeland security have been a lot more expensive than getting off foreign oil ever could have been. That’s even without accounting for “external costs” such as dead soldiers.

    After 40 years, the dynamic is still the same. We need to get off foreign oil. I came up with that after drinking some beer, so I know it’s true 🙂

    Failing to plan has consequences that are just as great as planning wrongly.

  28. Steve says:

    Trouble is, you would have to have a perfect burn. Engines are not perfect hence catalytic converters. Still a trick question.

  29. Rincon says:

    I think you have it backwards Steve. A more perfect burn produces more CO2, not less. There’s no way to reduce CO2 output except to cripple the engine by making it less efficient, reducing its energy output, and producing more noxious gases. That would be a trick answer, but it’s hardly a trick question; just a very basic question about combustion.

  30. Steve says:

    I don’t have it backward. C0 is produced because a perfect burn is not possible (outside lab conditions and even then its very difficult.)

  31. Rincon says:

    You’re correct, but it’s not pertinent to the question. CO (carbon monoxide)is produced from an imperfect burn, but has little to do with global warming. CO2 (carbon dioxide)is the desired product of combustion and is the major greenhouse gas.

  32. Steve says:

    Then why the HELL did we use all that Platinum to convert the CO to CO2 ????

    Never mind, I know the answer and what this line leads to is the absolute fact that cleaning up CO2 will lead to the next trouble for environmentalists to rally round.

    In fact its already happening, to EV’s. From OCT 2012.

  33. Rincon says:

    CO is perhaps a billion times more toxic than CO2. The amount of CO produced by a car is miniscule, so the global warming impact of converting it to CO2 is negligable.

    Burning gasoline produces dramatically less CO2 than burning coal, so if an electric vehicle is powered by electricity generated from coal, its impact on global warming will be greater. The reason I think electric vehicles show promise is because they help us get off of foreign oil.

  34. Steve says:

    I could’a SWORE I said “never mind I know the answer” ! geez…cant even crack silly joke on the way to making a point.
    You should re read that PM Blog and follow the links to the source material. QWe are making a lateral move overall and the pollution will only be shifting from the atmosphere to land based. And may even be worse overall if it really can get to fresh water sources.

    My point should becoming clear. Every time we THINK we have the right answer, in our haste to “fix it at all costs” we find we only shift the problem and make lateral moves. Conservatives keep screaming we need to study the total effect of making very large changes before we throw the economy in the trash heap with all the battery pollution! (Another silly funny to lighten the mood. Don’t worry my day employer is safe.)

  35. Rincon says:

    Sorry Steve, I didn’t get the meaning of the last half of the sentance. While puzzling over that, I totally forgot the first half. What’s worse, I forgot to laugh at your silly little joke. I laughed now, so I hope it wasn’t too late to make up for it 🙂

    I agree that it can cost plenty to overreact. Ethanol showed us that. On the other hand, the last 3 wars and 9/11 showed us the cost of underreacting when it came to getting off foreign oil. To me, the best path is halfway. Adopt only those measures against global warming that have a good chance of paying for themselves. That approach yields a lot more if external costs are taken into account, which seems to be a sticking point. The costs of the wars were external, but absolutely massive. They should not have been ignored.

  36. Steve says:

    Thing about war? It will never go away. Its not foreign oil they are fight over, though that is one of the larger excuses this time. Haven’t you noticed the latest excuse is who gets to have nuclear power?

  37. Rincon says:

    I notice that China, Europe, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan, Australia, etc have managed to stay out of trouble Why can’t we?

  38. Steve says:

    The USA is the latest in a long line of Empires, or had you not noticed?
    AND we are rotting from the inside, just like all those before us.

  39. Rincon says:

    Sad, but true.

  40. […] plaintiffs include Friends of Searchlight Desert and Mountains, Basin and Range Watch and individuals Judy Bundorf, […]

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