Dunn asks for compensation for military demands that led to “scrapping” of wind project on state trust land
More than half of a wind energy project planned on state trust lands in Torrance County was scrapped after approval for the project was held up by the federal government, information from the New Mexico State Land Office stated.
As a result, New Mexico’s public schools and Carrie Tingley Hospital, the beneficiaries of the project, will lose out on roughly $25-million and State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is asking the United States Air Force for compensation.
Wind farms and transmission lines also are being developed in Lincoln County.
According to developer Avangrid Renewables, the Air Force’s use of a military training route in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm has displaced 61 of 114 planned turbine locations on State Trust Lands creating a “fatal flaw” to the project as Avangrid cannot build turbines in locations that do not have approval from the Department of Defense and subsequently the Federal Aviation Administration, the release stated.
In a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Dunn wrote he believes the Air Force should compensate the trust for lost revenue due to military operations in New Mexico which are preventing the productive use of State Trust Lands.
“The federal government’s de facto prohibition of New Mexico’s trust lands is rendering them useless for any type of revenue generating activity,” Dunn said. “These lands provide critical funding for public schools, universities, hospitals, and other trust beneficiaries. As former cabinet secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department, Secretary Wilson should be sympathetic to our plight.”
In his letter to Secretary Wilson, Dunn noted the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee recent objection to a Department of the Interior Record of Decision on the proposed SunZia Southwest transmission line, because it did not take sufficient account of the proposed project’s potential impact on the national security mission of White Sands Missile Range.
In that circumstance, the military’s restrictions on the use of 300,000 acres of state trust lands in the northern and western call-up areas adjacent to the WSMR has prevented productive use of those lands, and the commissioner has urged DoD to compensate the trust for what amounts to a taking of the property.
“This federal power grab not only impacts revenue to the trust, but completely disregards state’s rights and individual liberties,” Dunn said. “This is military tyranny.”
Oil, gas, and mineral production, ranching and farming, and commercial development on State Trust Lands support public schools, seven universities, New Mexico Military Institute, New Mexico School for the Deaf, New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, correctional facilities, water conservation projects and public building construction and repair. In fiscal year 2017, the State Land Office collected $664 million from lease payments, oil and gas lease sale earnings, rights-of-way, permits, interest, fees, and oil, gas, and mineral royalties.
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