Tribes bring fight over Southwest transmission line to 9th Circuit

By Niina H. Farah | 04/25/2024 06:21 AM EDT

The federal appeals court will now consider whether to freeze work on the SunZia line, which is designed to expand access to renewable energy.

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 and other groups opposing a high-voltage Southwest transmission line are fighting a federal court order that allowed construction to proceed on the $8 billion project.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, San Carlos Apache Tribe and others have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review a decision from a federal judge in Arizona that rebuffed their request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project designed to bolster access to energy generated from renewable sources.

Opponents of the project contend that the Bureau of Land Management has not adequately considered how work on the 550-mile line could harm cultural and historical sites within southeast Arizona’s San Pedro Valley.


But last week, Judge Jennifer Zipps of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled that the challengers had filed their lawsuit too late.