Rep. Gosar Introduces Land Exchange Bill to Foster Economic Development and Job Creation in Rural Arizona

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 2630, which would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to La Paz County, Arizona, in order to create economic development opportunities and facilitate renewable electricity generation for the Western United States:

“I have long been an advocate of a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, and solar power is an integral part of a diverse, market-based energy mix. This bill will allow La Paz County to take advantage of one of their best assets, sunshine.”

“Because the immense federal footprint in the County leaves only roughly six percent of land available for taxable use, a land transfer is necessary for the County to secure enough space for this type of development. H.R. 2630 allows the County to secure title to 8,000 acres from the BLM for fair market value. The County can put this otherwise under-utilized land to more effective use by partnering with private renewable energy developers to create good-paying local jobs and build a diverse tax base to support basic public services. Supervisor Irwin and the County have done amazing work in helping craft this commonsense legislation.”

Following the introduction of H.R. 2630, La Paz County Supervisor Holly Irwin stated, “Congressman Gosar has his finger on the pulse of rural America to help jump start the economy of a western Arizona county in conveying a disturbed parcel of property that could instead act as an anchor to attract jobs and stimulate our local economy as we struggle under federal ownership that leaves less than 6% of private property available to support government-mandated services."

 

Background:

The full text of H.R. 2630 can be found HEREOriginal cosponsors of the bill are Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05) and Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-08).

The BLM-prepared map depicting the site of the proposed land conveyance can be found HERE.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

La Paz County currently is working with Congressman Paul Gosar, from the Fourth Congressional District in Arizona, to facilitate the purchase of 8,000 acres of property from the BLM with the intent to develop large scale, solar generation facilities. The La Paz County Board of Supervisors’ intent is to create long-term, lease contracts with renewable energy project developers that respond to national demand to increase renewable power generation while also helping to create new sources of revenue to address the economic challenges inherent to a jurisdiction with almost 95% of the County’s property owned by Federal, State or Tribal governments.

There are a number of precedents setting examples of other Western Counties using legislation to seek the conveyance of federal lands to stimulate economic development in rural locations. La Paz County proposes to use a similar process to acquire a large parcel of property that could interconnect with the Ten West Link currently proposed to transect La Paz County.