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Last week, a U.S. district judge dismissed claims by Native American tribes and environmentalists seeking to stop construction along part of a $10 billion energy transmission line in Arizona.

The transmission line in question, owned by California-based developer Patterned Energy and dubbed the SunZia Wind and Transmission project, will carry wind-generated electricity from New Mexico to California, spanning 520 miles.

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The Tohono O’odham Nation, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and the Center for Biological Diversity and Archeology Southwest filed suit against the project in January, alleging a portion of the transmission line that runs through Arizona's San Pedro Valley disrupts an area of historical, cultural and religious significance for the tribes. Plaintiffs hoped the suit would pause construction so more work could be done to identify culturally significant sites within a 50-mile (80-kilometer) stretch of the valley.

In 2023, the Bureau of Land Management allowed the project to move forward without notifying the tribes involved first, which falls afoul of the National Historic Preservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and multiple executive orders on preservation and tribal consultation, the tribes write in their joint statement. Plaintiffs further alleged that the Burea failed to adequately inventory cultural resources in the area, and ignored repeatedly raised concerns about cultural safety.

Pattern Energy called the ruling a win for the region, citing the jobs and billions of dollars in economic development and investment that will result from the project.

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