Federal Approval of SunZia Transmission Line Based on “Inadequate” and “Corrupted” Process
Less than a week ago, the United States Secretary of the Interior signed the federal approval for the controversial SunZia Southwest Transmission Project consisting of two 500 kV transmission lines that will cut through the San Pedro River Valley, “…destroying previously untouched wildlife habitat and disrupting primary wildlife migration corridors…” That’s what the Cascabel Working Group, Sierra Club and Friends of the Aravaipa Region said in a joint news release issued January 26, 2015.
The 160-foot-tall towers and conductors will run from central New Mexico and Arizona to the power-hungry Desert Southwest in Arizona and California, and will purportedly carry primarily wind-generated electricity. Two parallel single-circuit 500 kV lines will require rights-of-way up to a whopping 1000 feet in width for 515 miles.
The Cascabel Working Group, Sierra Club and Friends of the Aravaipa Region have been attempting to educate SunZia, governments, regulators and the public for the past 6 years about the many environmental impacts of the project. Their news release states, “The final route selected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would irreparably harm some of Arizona’s most important natural and cultural resources and irreversibly damage a unique and important ecosystem…The damage that this project would do to Arizona’s lower San Pedro Valley region cannot be justified given the questionable and unproved claims that this project is needed to promote renewable energy resources.”
The route selected by the BLM “…would impact 40 years of conservation efforts by federal and state government agencies, corporations and conservation organizations, which have spent more than $40 million to protect more than 200,000 acres of valley lands. The San Pedro River is the last undammed River in the Desert Southwest and the principal migration corridor for birds, plus it hosts the greatest mammal diversity in North America.” The route preferred by SunZia “…threads its way between the Aravaipa Canyon, Galiuro Mountains and Santa Teresa Wilderness Areas and would fragment the largest block of intact habitat in Arizona outside the Grand Canyon region.”
The organizations go on to say the BLM essentially dismissed public comment on the environmental impact and assessment statements, which is inconsistent with the National Environmental Policy Act. Their news release concludes, “We strongly object to sacrificing high-quality environmental values to such an inadequate and corrupted process and will work to correct this however we can…We cannot permit such an overt disregard for the intent of the law.”
SunZia proponents will now seek state and local siting permits in Arizona and New Mexico (Arizona Daily Star).
The Cascabel Working Group, Sierra Club and Friends of the Aravaipa Region comments about the “inadequate” and “corrupted” process to arrive at the federal approval and the “unproved claims” by SunZia proponents are far-too-common complaints by organizations, landowners, homeowners, businesses and local governments most directly and negatively impacted by new overhead transmission projects across the U.S. and Canada, many of which are unnecessary and only add to the consumer costs for electricity and to the profits of transmission corporations.
Many who have contacted RETA over the past 6 years refer to the public consultation processes of power transmission proponents and the public participation and hearing processes by regulators and state, provincial and federal governments as “THEATRE”, simply meant to suggest that the legitimate concerns of those opposed to new overhead transmission lines are considered. However, the winds are changing, as community organizations and local governments become armed with volumes of facts surrounding the overwhelming negative impacts of overhead high voltage transmission lines on the environment, property values, human health, animal health, agriculture, safety, aircraft and aesthetics. Transmission companies can no longer pull the wool over the eyes of the public, when the facts so strongly support the many concerns by those most directly and negatively impacted.
Visit this link for earlier RETA blogs about the SunZia proposal. Check out the rest of our website for more information on the many negative impacts of overhead transmission lines, and the benefits of alternatives.