The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose the construction of a new international natural gas pipeline west of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, saying the project will create a “de facto highway” that will jeopardize public safety by increasing border and law enforcement security problems.

Additionally, supervisors opposed the Sierrita Gas Pipeline because the 59-mile route would cut through remote and pristine areas west of the refuge, increasing erosion and damaging native vegetation.

A resolution passed by the supervisors states that a pipeline shouldn’t be constructed through the Altar Valley at all, but that if it must be built, it would make more sense to place it along an existing highway corridor that already runs through the refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined the pipeline can’t run through the refuge, even though Arizona Highway 286 already crosses it and even though the decision runs counter to findings of the Arizona Ecological Services Office and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The County will argue to federal regulators that a new road to accommodate the pipeline will force Pima County to shoulder increased costs to maintain appropriate levels of law enforcement.

The proposed placement of the pipeline also could devalue the County’s investment in the Altar Valley area, given that the County has invested more than $44 million in voter- approved public funds to acquire thousands of acres and manage 62,000 acres of grazing leases.

Supervisors indicated they will intervene in the proceeding to approve the pipeline and directed County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to file a statement of opposition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They also called upon Southern Arizona’s congressional delegation and the Department of the Interior to consider the public safety and environmental implications of the project.

To read the resolution in its entirety, please visit agenda/03122013/ADD1_LateMaterialReso.pdf.

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