9th Circ. Dumps Mojave Solar Project Appeal


     PASADENA, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge properly tossed a challenge of a government-approved solar power plant since those fighting the project lack standing to do so, a Ninth Circuit panel held Friday.
     La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle Advisory Committee, Californians for Renewable Energy and several of the groups’ members sued to stop the 1,950-acre, 250-megawatt Genesis Solar Energy Project near the Mojave Desert town of Blythe.
     A federal judge dismissed the suit, ultimately denying the parties leave to file a fifth amended complaint.
     In an unpublished opinion issued on Friday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s ruling.
     Specifically, the panel found that the plaintiffs hadn’t established standing under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 because they did not make their case that the project would not have gone forward without a federal loan guarantee.
     Furthermore, the panel held that the groups did not show that environmental harm and potential damage to cultural artifacts at the project site was “fairly traceable” to the government’s loan guarantee.
     As for La Cuna’s claims under the National Historic Preservation Act, the panel found a tribal monitor for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe did not have standing to bring a claim of inadequate tribal consultation since the regulation extends the right to government-to-government consultation to the tribe and not individual members.
     The plaintiffs also had no cause to demand a supplemental environmental impact statement since they did not adequately allege the original report failed to evaluate the project’s impact on cultural resources and the kit fox, the panel found.
     And the plaintiffs did not make a case that the government took a less than “hard look” at possible environmental consequences of the project as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the panel concluded.
     Circuit Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw and Andrew Hurwitz were joined on the panel by Chief District Judge Thomas Rice of the Eastern District of Washington, sitting by designation.

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