President Donald Trump has signed a piece of legislation that will allow the sale of 6,000 acres of federal land to La Paz County, Arizona for solar energy development purposes.
The legislation was part of a larger legislative package that had been championed by members of Congress from Arizona, and is intended to pave the way for a solar energy deal that County authorities hope will channel new sources of tax revenue into the County.
La Paz County Supervisors D.L. Wilson, Holly Irwin, and Duce Minor applauded the step.
Supervisor Minor affirmed the County’s top priority in developing this land is to attract economic diversification that has occurred elsewhere in Arizona in order to create higher paying jobs and decrease unemployment rates for its citizens.
Supervisor Wilson stated that the Board of Supervisors’ vision is to “attract solar development to this strategic location to diversify the local economy, create quality jobs and increase the tax base so our rural County can adequately meet the growing need of its citizens.”
The conveyance, which is strategically located between Los Angeles and Phoenix, will yield economic benefits to La Paz County citizens as it is developed, according to a press release by La Paz County.
Supervisor Irwin said that the conveyance’s proximity to Interstate 10 and electric transmission lines “will allow for easy access to attract a workforce from within the County’s jurisdiction.” This is significant given the County’s unemployment rate, which is a full percent higher than the statewide average.
“The Board of Supervisors would like to thank all members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation both past and present, especially Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally as well as Congressman Paul Gosar for making the passage of this valuable legislation possible,” the statement said.
The move is the latest in a lengthy process, and follows passage of the Act by the U.S. House in July 2018 and Wilson addressing a Congressional committee in October 2017.
Anthony D’Errico Gina D’Errico
Did they take our public land for this?
This is an outrage!!!! This whole process smelled from the very beginning. As I understand it, this “solar company” wanted to build on the site some 37 miles EAST of Quartzsite along I-10 and BLM balked at allowing a lease because the land was unsuitable for that project for a variety of reasons (read the Senate Committee report). So to do an end run around BLM, Member Gosar and La Paz County conspired to create this scheme. Member Gosar would submit a bill allowing the county to buy this land from the Federal government and the county could lease or sell (it’s not clear which) to a private company without any protections at all. This raises a couple of questions. How is the county, which claims to be poor, going to pay for this land at fair market value? Maybe the money will come from the slush fund the voters here approved in the last election allowing the county to spend more than the Constitutional limit, a proposition I opposed because there was no specifically defined use for the money. Secondly, which is more concerning to me is the collusion and conspiracy between the County, this alleged “solar company” and Member Gosar. For this to have happened, they had to conspired to make this happen.
The intent is quite clear as stated by both Member Gosar and the county, to extract this land from the American people to sell or lease to a private company.
So let’s now look at this property and the claim that it will increase the tax base and provide higher paying jobs. As I said, the property is located 37 miles EAST of Quartzsite, out in the middle of nowhere. If and when construction begins, where will the qualified labor force come from? Good luck with that in La Paz County as there are few if any qualified people to build the project, except maybe day laborers. Once completed, who from La Paz County will drive that far from Quartzsite or Parker to the site? There are no amenities, no roads, no infrastructure there. How much money would the county and state have to dole out of taxpayer money to provide access? Then we have the question of tax breaks. The state has tax breaks for solar, which we all end up paying for as it is an expense item in the ledger. Let me explain, By law, taxes must be paid, it is the same as income. So to give a tax “credit” there must be an offset to it. Simply put, if you have a tax bill of $100, on the books that is considered income to the state. If you give a credit, the tax bill becomes zero, but that $100 still has to be paid, which means it has to come from somewhere because a state cannot run a deficit, but it can run a debt. The county claims that this will increase the tax base, which may or may not be true short term. It is commonplace for a county or state to grant a tax reprieve for several years to entice a company to build withing a certain area. We have no way of knowing what was promised to this alleged “solar company”. I have no doubt that behind closed doors a deal has been struck.
So, will the county use the slush fund approved by the voters to pay for the land, or will a bond issue be floated to buy it? Fair question. If there is a bond issue, will the county claim higher paying jobs and increased tax base as their justification? La Paz County voters aren’t the brightest lot and have been swayed before, quite easily. Prop 401 is more than enough proof of this claim.
Again, this is an end run around BLM and the Federal lands protections we all enjoy as American citizens. BLM has already established qualified areas in the area for solar development, they already did their homework. This land according to BLM was NOT acceptable. So, we have an scheme to take the land anyway.
This sets a bad precedent for the future. The way things are now is that BLM leases lands after a process established by Congress to preserve our public lands, but also provide for commercial development on suitable tracts of land. By doing this, the lands are taken away from the American people and sold or leased to a private company which no longer has to play by the Federal rules as established by laws passed by Congress. The public is given an opportunity to voice their approval or disapproval over any project through comment periods and town halls. They have an opportunity to provide data to support their position and is a matter of public record. The whole process is extremely transparent. No shenanigans behind closed doors.
We may never know how this happened behind the scenes. There were red flags all over the place and no one, including the media (such as it is) questioned it. I’m not the brightest bulb, but even I could see what was going on.
Shame on La Paz County for pulling this stunt. You are living in some fantasy world if you believe that there will be any positive effect for the county and those of us who live here.
Cool, solar fields come in and lands get shut down around them.
Wow..Lane Sr put it out there. What does our local paper say…slurp?
It’s a LONG way from Parker!