Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today expressed deep disappointment with the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) newly finalized Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a power transmission line projected to pass through several sensitive riparian areas along the San Pedro River in Southern Arizona.
The project, proposed by SunZia Transmission, LLC, will result in the construction and operation of up to two 500-kilovolt transmission lines connecting a new substation in Socorro or Lincoln County, N.M., with the Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County. The EIS released on Friday confirms that the BLM's preferred route will pass through the San Pedro, a plan Grijalva and local stakeholders have opposed for more than a year.
"This route will damage a precious Southern Arizona resource and harm sensitive species. It's that simple," Grijalva said. "I'm not alone in wondering why we can't focus more on following existing transmission routes. The BLM's proposal is inconsistent with its conservation goals in the San Pedro Watershed. The benefits of building this project specifically along this route do not outweigh the risks to wildlife and sensitive ecosystems that it presents."
He also cited concerns about the impacts on rural communities from the construction of a 1,400-foot-wide transmission corridor with up to eight 135-foot towers every mile.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently assessing the San Pedro for its conservation value -- a process that could contradict BLM's findings. More information about that effort is available at http://1.usa.gov/18S83Wx.
"We have to protect the San Pedro River and keep in mind the communities that call this unique place home," Grijalva said."These considerations were often forgotten or ignored in the past, to the detriment of entire regions of the country. The public demands a route with the fewest negative impacts to archaeological resources, migratory birds and rural communities. I don't believe this route fits the bill."