Senators’ La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act transfers thousands of acres from federal government to La Paz County for economic development projects
Committee also approved two Sinema and Kelly-backed bills investing in Arizona’s energy future and supporting Arizona veterans
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act – bipartisan legislation introduced by Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and sponsored by Arizona Senator Mark Kelly.
Sinema and Kelly’s bill – which cleared the committee with broad, bipartisan support – directs the Department of the Interior to transfer approximately 3,400 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to La Paz County to boost economic development, namely solar energy projects.
“Our bipartisan bill creates good-paying jobs, boosts affordable, renewable energy, and fuels La Paz County’s economy. We’re looking forward to delivering this lasting solution for La Paz County,” said Sinema, lead sponsor of the La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act.
“This is a big win for La Paz County that invests in the community and creates jobs while supporting the transition to clean energy,” said Kelly.
“Senator Kyrsten Sinema along with the County recognized the importance of preserving our ancestral culture and history with the introduction of this bill. We are looking forward to expanding our agreement with La Paz County and this positive relationship which ensures that our artifacts will be treated in accordance with tribal preferences,” said Amelia Flores, Chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
“The La Paz Board of County Supervisors is appreciative of the hard work both Senator Sinema and Senator Kelly have done to advance the La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This vital legislation ensures La Paz County can be home to the largest solar project in the nation, which will bring new jobs and significant economic development opportunities for our region. The bill also represents an important partnership between La Paz County and the Colorado River Indian Tribes focused on preserving tribal artifacts as development occurs,” said La Paz County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Irwin.
“This bill facilitates additional investment in clean energy projects in La Paz County and we are proud to be part of this ongoing work. The site will be ideal for the potential development of about 500 MW of solar capacity and up to 900 MWH of battery storage creating 700 construction jobs for La Paz County,” said 174 Power Global Senior Director Patrick Shim.
The La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act ensures that the Department of the Interior excludes the conveyance of any federal land that contains significant cultural, environmental, wildlife, or recreational resources.
The bipartisan legislation maintains that, as a condition of the transfer, La Paz County and any subsequent owner must: make good faith efforts to avoid disturbing tribal artifacts; minimize impacts on tribal artifacts if they are disturbed; coordinate with the Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Historic Preservation Office to identify artifacts of cultural and historic significance; and allow tribal representatives to rebury unearthed artifacts at, or near, where they were discovered.
In 2020, the La Paz County Board of Supervisors submitted written support of Sinema and Kelly’s La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act – asserting that the senators’ bill will create jobs and help facilitate a clean energy future for Arizona.
Additionally, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Sinema and Kelly-backed Mining Schools Act, bipartisan legislation that invests in Arizona’s energy future by supporting jobs and university mining educational programs focused on extracting critical minerals, rare earth minerals, and mine remediation. The Committee also approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sinema and Kelly directing the U.S. Forest Service to transfer over 232 acres of National Forest System land located in the Tonto National Forest to Gila County – using the land for a veterans retreat and community center.