US southwestern tribes seek UN support as green energy project advances on their lands

Tribes in southwestern Arizona are reaching out to the United Nations for assistance after a U.S. court allowed a major green energy project to proceed through Indigenous lands.

Taylar Dawn Stagner reports for Grist.

In short:

  • A U.S. judge denied Indigenous nations' plea to halt a $10 billion wind-transmission line under the name of SunZia which would affect tribal lands in Arizona.
  • Despite supporting green energy, the tribes criticize the lack of due process and community involvement from Pattern Energy, the Canadian-owned parent company of the project.
  • Pattern Energy claims the project is the largest in U.S. history, aiming to power millions across multiple states by 2026.

Key quote:

“They are doing the same thing as fossil fuel. It’s just more trendy.”

— Andrea Carmen, member of the Yaqui tribe.

Why this matters:

Many lands in the Southwest that are proposed for renewable energy projects, like solar and wind farms, belong to Native American tribes. The development of large-scale renewable energy projects on these lands can lead to the destruction or desecration of sacred sites, burial grounds, and other culturally important locations and violate the right to self-determination of these communities.

LISTEN: What would a just energy transition look like for US tribes?

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