Pearce: SunZia must act based on national security interest

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John Conger, acting deputy under secretary of defense, sent a letter Aug. 7 stating the official opposition of the Department of Defense to the “preferred alternative route” of the proposed SunZia transmission line.

In June 2013, the Bureau of Land Management issued a final environmental impact statement for the SunZia transmission line project. The preferred route highlighted within the FEIS has the transmission line traveling through the northernmost boundaries of White Sands Missile Range. As a result, the DOD, with BLM involvement, created a technical working group to address any and all potential conflicts to the line’s creation.

“The TWG was created to analyze any and all impact the construction of SunZia through WSMR would have on the range and national security, and to propose possible solutions to any impact,” said U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce in a statement. “After months of work, the group has concluded that the proposed route would create a serious national security risk.

“As Mr. Conger highlights in his letter, the route as proposed would impede the military’s ability to complete testing that cannot be done anywhere else in the United States. The result would cause a devastating impact on national security.”

Pearce said he hopes SunZia recognizes how damaging their proposed route will be to national security.

“I urge them to take the advice of the TWG’s report and take every action possible to alter the route to not to interfere with the critical mission at WSMR.”

The letter expresses the DOD’s official objection “to a portion of the preferred alternative route identified in the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) …” citing “significant risks to national security.”

Further, it specifies that the line in question “would preclude our capability to fully test the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Architecture and other weapon systems under realistic threat environments at WSMR. This testing is absolutely necessary and it should be clearly understood that no other location exists in the United States where it is possible to conduct flight tests with the footprint requirements these weapon systems present.”