Tribes ask 9th Circuit to stop work on Southwest transmission line

By Niina H. Farah | 05/06/2024 06:52 AM EDT

The Tohono O’odham Nation and other challengers are asking the federal appeals court to act by Friday.

Construction equipment is staged at a yard in Arizona.

Construction equipment is staged at a yard in Arizona near Red Rock Canyon in the San Pedro Valley. Alex Binford-Walsh/Archaeology Southwest

Arizona tribes are making another attempt to convince a federal court to temporarily freeze construction of a high-voltage transmission line that they claim could irrevocably harm cultural and historical sites in the San Pedro Valley.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, San Carlos Apache Tribe and others are asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene by Friday and prevent work on the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project in southeastern Arizona.

The project is slated to carry mostly wind energy to about 3 million customers in California and Arizona. SunZia has been championed by the Biden administration as part of its broader push to expand clean energy access nationwide.


“Because construction is at an advanced stage, this Court’s immediate intervention is necessary to avoid the irreversible desecration and destruction of critically important Tribal properties and cultural landscapes before the Court can address the merits of Plaintiffs’ legal claims,” the tribes wrote in a filing submitted late Thursday.