Indian tribes present a dilema for Interior Secretary over a large transmission line project



Native American tribes in Arizona have gone to court to block construction of a major transmission line designed to carry wind-powered electricity from New Mexico and across Arizona to California.

The line has the support of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a Native American from New Mexico who might have to decide whether she supports Green energy or Native Americans.

The SunZia Southwest Transmissoin Project is opposed by the Tohono O’odham Nation, the San Carlos Apache Tribe and others who contend the construction will harm their cultural and historical sites in the San Pedro Valley. Their legal action now presents a quandry for Haaland who was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremonies late last year in her home state.

Pattern Energy broke ground last September on the project that also included the building of a 3.5-gigawatt wind farm in New Mexico and construction of the 550-mile transmission line. SunZia will reportedly be the largest wind development in the U.S. when it comes online in 2026. Pattern Energy boasted the project will generate three times more power than the Hoover Dam.

The developer maintains that once SunZia is completed, it will serve the electrical power needs of 3 million people in New Mexico, Arizona and California. However, now Pattern Energy must deal with the legal maneuver in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which was asked to make a ruling by the end of the week.