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WATCH: Sen. Kelly Speaks in Support of Arizona Land Transfer Legislation in La Paz, Yavapai Counties

The second bill, the Arizona Test Station Land Transfer Act, introduced by Senator Kelly and co-sponsored by Senator Sinema, would transfer a 13-acre parcel of Forest Service land to a new veterinary school program at the University of Arizona. It is something. The property includes a ranch house adjacent to the ranch where students stay while learning how to care for cattle.

Click to watch Kelly's full remarks. here.

See below for a transcript of his statements and interactions with witnesses.

[0:05]: Thank you, Chairman. We thank Dr. Feldgas, S. 528, for his testimony regarding the La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act.

Senator Sinema and I introduced this bill because it has the potential to lead to the largest solar power project in the nation in terms of electricity production.

The bill would transfer 4,800 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management to La Paz County to complete a proposed 1,500 megawatt solar farm, including battery storage.

This is enough energy to power about 500,000 homes.

The La Paz project would link up with the proposed TenWest transmission line, which is designed to transport renewable energy between Arizona and California.

Mr. Chairman, I ask for unanimous consent to add to the record testimony from La Paz County and the Colorado River Indian Tribe in support of this bill.

[Without objection.]

Dr. Feldgas, how does the 1,500 MW of solar capacity in La Paz compare to the total amount of solar capacity on BLM lands today?

[1:28]: Now, as of May, 37 solar projects have been approved on BLM land, totaling more than 7,000 megawatts of capacity.

[1:35]: So is this an important addition?

[1:37]: That's… yes.

[1:39]: And how would you describe BLM's track record on permitting solar projects?

[1:46]: Well, as part of President Biden's goal to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035, and the 2020 Energy Act to allow 25 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2025. In support of this goal, the Department of Lands and the Land Office says management is constantly taking steps to improve the permitting process, making it more efficient and effective for applicants and communities. We are improving our consultation with tribes and considering all the different factors that are required for multi-use land. Just a few months ago, the Bureau of Land Management held several hearing sessions to begin the process of reviewing renewable energy regulations. That's why we listened to a variety of stakeholders from all walks of life, including local communities, tribes, scientists, and landowners. We are currently working on new regulations to improve the efficiency of the process.

[2:44]: So it's your opinion that this land transfer to La Paz County will be a faster process?

[2:52]: Well, it's my understanding that at this time there are solar permit applications in place on these lands. So while Congress is considering the bill, we are simultaneously working on its authorization.

[3:04]: Yes, thank you Dr. Feldgas.

Mr. French, thank you for testifying today. I would like to respond to the testimony submitted by the Forest Service regarding my bill, S. 1631.

The bill would transfer 13 acres of Forest Service land for a new veterinary school program at the University of Arizona.

In written testimony, the Forest Service said it opposes the bill on two issues it would like to correct for the record.

First, the Forest Service is concerned that the university could sell the land to a developer.

Bill S.1631 clarifies that if the university ceases to use the land for its veterinary medicine program, the land will revert to the Forest Service.

Second, the Forest Service was concerned that the land would become an isolated private property within the Coconino National Forest.

Again, the bill makes clear that the 13-acre parcel is not private property. This is a ranch house adjacent to an existing ranch owned and operated by the university.

The ranch house, where students live for several weeks to learn how to care for livestock, is not isolated within the National Forest. So, Mr. French, would you please direct the leaders of the Coconino National Forest to meet with the University of Arizona to clear up any misconceptions about this bill?

[4:47]: Yes, I would be happy to do so.

[4:49]: Thank you, and I yield.

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