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ABQ Chamber backs DOD position on SunZia power line

asunALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted unanimously to support U.S. Department of Defense recommendations to mitigate potential impacts on White Sands Missile Range by the proposed SunZia “clean energy” transmission line.

The Bureau of Land Management issued a final environmental impact statement last June on SunZia proposing to locate a 45-mile stretch of the 550-mile transmission line through the northern extension zone at White Sands Missile Range. But the DOD says that route could interfere with low-flying aircraft and missiles in the extension area – a “call up zone” where ranchers and others are often evacuated for testing exercises. In fact, White Sands commander, Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, told the Journal last week that the line as proposed would reduce the extension area available for weapons testing by 30 percent.

The Chamber board said it supports DOD’s recommendation to either bury a portion of the transmission line, or move the entire line northward outside the extension zone. The board said that’s critical to ensure that the missile range retains its status as the “premier location” in the U.S. for testing and evaluating systems.

“We believe Gen. Bingham needs access to every inch of the range,” said Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole in a statement.