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Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Nossaman Client Pattern Energy

On January 5, 2017 the Ninth Circuit closed the book on almost five years of litigation over Nossaman Client Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind, a 265 megawatt wind energy generation project (“Project”) located on federal land in Imperial County, CA.  

The Project, with a permanent footprint of only about 120 acres within its 12,500-acre site and power output equivalent to the needs of about 125,000 Southern California homes, was granted a right of way in 2012 by the Bureau of Land Management.  Although the benefits of the project are significant, the Project was opposed by members of the local community, some local environmental groups, a labor union and the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation.  Plaintiffs filed suit the day construction was authorized and sought a TRO, which was denied.  Plaintiffs claimed the BLM approved the project without adequate assessment of potential environmental impacts, and failed to recognize the cultural significance of the land. 

Additional lawsuits were filed within a few weeks, but preliminary injunction motions were denied and construction proceeded.  Most of the project was completed and began operating in December 2012 and the last group of turbines was completed in the spring of 2013.  Pattern and the permitting agencies ultimately prevailed in six suits at the trial court level.  Three Ninth Circuit appeals were filed, all of which have now been decided in favor of the Project.

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