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Green makes bad neighbor

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Several times each year I accept and enjoy assignments in lawsuits as a litigation support and expert environmental science and regulatory consultant. Over the last two years I’ve been involved with a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) matter where a city approved a proposed ten-story high wind turbine adjacent to an existing large residential subdivision on San Francisco’s East Bay. The wind turbine would be erected on adjacent light-industrial zoned property operated by an ambitious wind turbine installer and maintenance business, essentially to advertise his business.

Many government bureaucrats have become cult followers for all things “green.” So in this unprecedented matter city staff CEQA enforcers rushed to process, approve, and excuse some significant environmental impacts of the proposed wind turbine. I assisted attorneys for the adjacent residences’ homeowners association (HOA) to stop city approvals of the wind turbine.

I provided technical CEQA rebuttal filings and strategic environmental impact issues for the HOA’s opposition to city approvals of the wind turbine. HOA attorneys challenged the city’s abbreviated CEQA “mitigated negative declaration” approval of the wind turbine project in County Superior Court, and got a tentative ruling for the HOA. The wind turbine proponent may be required to prepare a lengthy and very costly CEQA Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and ultimately, abandon the wind turbine project.

California wind turbine electric power generation has been common in large remote “wind farm” developments for over thirty years – during the 20th century California built more wind turbine power than the rest of the world combined. And, though wind power (as well as solar power) can and should be part of America’s electric power production mix, it belongs in proven wind corridors on remote open lands, not anywhere near occupied residential, commercial, recreational or industrial land uses.

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