This is why we cannot have nice things. It's common knowledge that if you want to build something in the United States you must go through a permitting process that can take years if not decades. I'm talking about infrastructure projects from energy generation to transmission to roads. If a project is approved, so much time has passed, and costs have risen to point the project is no longer feasible. Too often the problem is special interest groups that have learned how to game the system.

In 2009, Pattern Energy applied for a permit to build an electrical transmission line to carry electricity from its SunZia electrical generating facility in central New Mexico to customers in Arizona and California. Throughout the permitting process, those that could be affected by the transmission line were notified of the project and given the opportunity to comment. It should be their "speak now or forever hold your peace" moment. But not in America.

The project was approved in 2015. The project was then put out for bid and construction was started. Now, almost 9 years after being approved, the project has been halted. A federal court judge has stopped the project pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Tohono O'odham Nation, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Archaeology Southwest. 50 miles of the 550-mile project will run through tribal lands. The plaintiffs, who also filed a lawsuit in Arizona state court, are asking the court to determine whether state regulatory officials properly considered the benefits and consequences of the project.

It's not unusual for parties that did not get their desired outcome to file a lawsuit. However, none of these groups participated in the regulatory review process. The tribes were specifically contacted, as were all property owners, giving them the opportunity to participate in the process. The non-profit organizations were also aware of the project and did not participate either. Their lack of participation was a deliberate and conscious choice.

Whether or not they thought they would be able to stop the project in the approval process is irrelevant to them. They know they could use the court system to at least delay the project for years. If they were able to get a sympathetic, activist judge, they might even be able to stop the project all together. Or maybe, they get a huge monetary 'settlement,' aka bribe, from Pattern Energy, to allow the project to proceed. They know how to play the game.

At a time when places like California are experiencing rolling brownouts or people are not able to keep their homes cooled or heated, additional electrical distribution and generating capabilities are needed not just to meet demand but to save lives as well. The actions of these activist groups are reprehensible and self-serving. By not participating in the approval process they should lose all rights to challenge the project in any way shape or form. They should be financially responsible for increased costs due to the delay of the project, including attorney's fees. Because their actions were deliberate and reprehensible, they should also be subject to punitive damages.

These are tactics used by lots of special interest groups claim to have the greater good of society as their motivating factor. In reality, most of them are self-serving charlatans looking to make a buck the easy way. Many have little regard for what is good for the environment or society or whichever group they claim to be 'helping.' And it's time to hold them responsible.

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