Monday, February 21, 2005

Lawsuit Over Bird Deaths at Altamont Pass Wind Farm Gets Green Light

Contra Costa reports that an Alameda County (CA) Superior Court Judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed against wind-power companies that operate the Altamont Pass Wind Farm may proceed (registration required).

The lawsuit, which was filed last November by a number of environmental organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity, claims that wind turbines at Altamont have killed 880 to 1,330 golden eagles, hawks, owls and other protected raptors each year for the past 20 years, in violation of California Fish and Game Code provisions as well as the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The plaintiffs assert that violations of these regulations and statutes amount to unfair business practices and seek damages in order to purchase and preserve bird habitats.

The defendant companies had moved to dismiss the suit, but Judge Ronald Sabraw concluded that the suit could continue. According to the Contra Costa report, the judge found that the plaintiffs could not prosecute the case on behalf of the general public, due to recent changes in California law, but that the suit was justified because the Plaintiffs, like all Californians, have a property interest in the wildlife killed by the turbines.

Update (2/23/05): Lawyer News has more on the recent ruling in the Altamont Pass case.

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