Thursday, December 16, 2010
California A federal judge today halted work on a large solar-energy project east of San Diego that is connected to the controversial Sunrise Power Link.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns granted a Native American tribe's request to stop work temporarily on the Tessera Solar plant, a 709-megawatt green energy project which is part of SDG&E's Sunrise project.
The Quechan Tribe of Southern California, Arizona and Mexico, has opposed the Tessera plant in the Imperial Valley for years. Their court claim cited "insufficient consultation during the permitting process." The lands used by the plant include burial grounds and other sacred sites and significant landmarks.
"Government agencies are not free to glide over requirements imposed by statutes (approved by Congress) and duly adopted regulations," Burns wrote in his order. Congress and the Department of the Interior "could have made these consulting requirements less stringent, but they didn't," he added.
In response to the injunction, Tessera Solar CEO Robert Lukefahr, said he was disappointed with the federal court's ruling.
“This ruling sets back our ability to provide clean, renewable power to Southern California," said Lukefahr in a statement. "And delays our ability to bring jobs and economic development to a region with the highest unemployment rate in America."
The injunction presents a major roadblock for the plant, and an important precedent to tribal lawsuits over land management.