News and Recent Publications

Support Peter’s Else’s legal action to #reroutesunzia and #keepthesanpedrowild by donating to the Cascabel Conservation Association’s legal fund or sending a check made out to “CCA Legal Fund” to CCA, Attn: Treasurer, 6146 N. Canyon Road, Cascabel, AZ 85602.
Yellow bulldozer pushing over vegetation.
San Pedro Film shows what is at stake in the middle San Pedro River Valley. Nov. 14, 2023.

Work has been suspended on the SunZia transmission line in the San Pedro Valley, and “the transmission line is at the heart of a legal challenge pending before the Arizona court of Appeals…”, reports the Associated Press. Nov. 14, 2023.

The planned SunZia transmission line would cross Pima County, where the 25-year-old Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan protects wildlife habitat and open space in Pima County. SunZia “will cause some damage to habitat and open space, which must be mitigated by the company building the project.” Oct. 23, 2023.

Researchers at the Desert Botanical Garden have found “agave species that represent remnant populations of plants domesticated and farmed by pre-contact peoples” in Arizona. Sweetwater Center works with the researchers to learn more about the ancient agaves in our area. Oct. 10, 2023.

AWall Street Journal video examines Why It Takes Decades to Build New Energy Projects in the U.S. The video acknowledges that the SunZia transmission line was rerouted six times—but only in New Mexico. Strong and sustained opposition from stakeholders to the planned Arizona route has been largely ignored. The video shows the planned SunZia route ending in central Arizona, far from its target California markets, and points out that local grid capacity is another hurdle facing renewable energy projects. Oct. 5, 2023.

“[B]oth the BLM and the [SunZia] developers were afflicted with this tunnel vision and were unable to see the harm the project would inflict on the San Pedro River and the people who consider it sacred.” Jonathan Thompson thinks about power lines, birds, sacred sites, and the San Pedro at the Land Desk. Sept. 2, 2023.

“In Arizona, there are still concerns about potential ecological damage from SunZia… Critics plan to appeal a recent court decision affirming regulatory approval in that state,” says an Associated Press articleSept. 1, 2023.

Sweetwater Center’s co-founders and board members, Tom Orum and Nancy Ferguson were awarded the Raymond Turner Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science for their nearly 50 years of annual saguaro monitoring at Saguaro National Park. June 2, 2023

“There are alternative routes [for SunZia] through Arizona that…would not impact [the San Pedro River] at all,” says Peter Else in Inside Climate News. May 29, 2023.

SunZia “still faces opposition from small, all-volunteer conservation groups on the Lower San Pedro River. Activists there want to see the power lines built elsewhere using established transmission routes,” according to the Arizona Daily Star. May 25, 2023.

An article at highlights SunZia as an example of disagreements between people focused on mitigating global heating and those focused on protecting wildlife habitat and rare ecosystems. The piece mentions Peter Else’s court complaint against the Arizona Corporation Commission. May 2, 2023.

Jonathan Thompson, at High Country News, says the long vetting process for the planned SunZia transmission line is a good thing and notes our opposition to the proposed route through the middle San Pedro. Apr. 30, 2023.

California Energy Markets quotes Peter Else, “If [SunZia] happens, it will become the poster child for poor land-use planning…Not only is this project routed through the worst possible place in Arizona, it also runs through a national wildlife refuge in New Mexico.” Mar. 30, 2023

The Arizona Republic describes how the SunZia transmission line is likely to affect the Middle San Pedro Valley. Peter Else, who is challenging the AZ Corporation Commission’s permit for SunZia, says he’ll keep working “so that my conscience will be clear that I did everything possible to keep this travesty from happening.” Mar. 30, 2023.

Several groups have filed protests with the Bureau of Land Management in New Mexico to the agency’s decision to allow the planned SunZia project to proceed. One protest was filed by the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, Cascabel Conservation Association, Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of Oracle State Park. A second protest was filed by Archaeology Southwest, which protects cultural sites in the Middle San Pedro Valley. Mar. 20, 2023.

ABloomberg article describes Peter Else’s legal action, “that contends Arizona officials broke the law by approving a route [for SunZia] that slices through saguaro-studded wilderness.” Mar. 18, 2023.

Many in our valley have opposed the proposed SunZia power line for years. An Arizona Daily Star article highlights our concerns. Dec. 19, 2022.