California Indian Tribe Clashes with Government Solar Project

Thursday, November 04, 2010
Plans to build a 709-megawatt solar farm in the Southern California desert have hit a snag after a Native American tribe sued the U.S. government to stop development of the project from proceeding. In its lawsuit directed at the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Quechan Tribe (population: 3,500) claims federal officials rushed through approval of the Imperial Valley Solar Project, which will consist of 28,360 “SunCatcher” dishes spread across 6,360 acres of public land outside of El Centro, California. The tribe contends the solar farm could damage Quechan cultural artifacts, as well as desert flora and fauna, including the endangered flat-tailed horned lizard that holds a significant place in tribal lore.
The Quechan live on both sides of the Colorado River in California and Arizona. Their reservation is bisected by Interstate Highway, connecting San Diego to Phoenix.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Tribe Fights Giant Solar Energy Project (by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service)
Quechan Tribe v. Department of the Interior (U.S. District Court, Southern California) (pdf)


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