SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) - A fight over a power line planned to run through New Mexico pits proponents against the Army with both sides saying jobs and billions of dollars are at stake.
The latest proposed route closely skirts the northern edge of the White Sands Missile Range, a route the Army hates saying it could doom the range and its thousands of jobs.
But backers of the power line claim more delays could also cost thousands of jobs and hurt the power grid.
The proposed SunZia power line route about 50 miles southeast of Albuquerque is a mix of public and private.
It's one of President Obama's Top 10 priorities for improving America's power grid and cutting back on the use of fossil fuels.
New wind and solar plants planned for eastern New Mexico would send power to Arizona all creating thousands of construction and maintenance jobs, according to its proponents.
For four years the federal Bureau of Land Management has led environmental studies to find a route...
"This being on the Top 10 really motivates us to really do our job, do it really well, but get to a decision point as soon as we can," BLM State Director Jesse Juen told KRQE News 13.
The issue, though, isn't on the ground. It's in the sky.
When Sky News 13 flew the proposed power line route it was right at the edge of airspace White Sands Missile Range uses for flight training and for testing weapons.
The north end of WSMR's property is south of U.S. Highway 380 between Socorro and Carrizozo.
To the north is public and private land creating a block of extra range airspace.
The proposed power line borders this airspace from near Corona on U.S. Highway 54 passing north of Gran Quivira National Monument and south of Mountainair before dodging the Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande.
The Department of Defense says both the height of the lines and their electronic emissions would hamper some new weapons tests.
Simulated enemy missiles would zip across this area at near treetop level trying to avoid new anti-missile systems.
The Army says if enemy missiles have to pop up over power lines they lose their stealth, and emissions from the lines confuse anti-missile sensors.
The Army wants the power lines either buried or looped farther north to near Belen.
White Sands says the range "offers a unique testing environment which cannot be replicated elsewhere. If testing cannot be done here jobs and revenue associated with this testing will also be lost."
Critics and a scathing newspaper editorial urge the BLM to 'get its head out of the sand' and move the power line.
Others, like Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., an engineer and former House Armed Services Committee member, feel there is room for compromise...
"Anywhere in the world, even when I visited places like Afghanistan, you see these big transmission lines, and you have to operate around them," Heinrich said.
It also turns out that the power line route has already been moved for the Army several times.
Four years ago and at the Army's suggestion it was shifted from near U.S. 380 for more distance from electronics sites.
Later another change of mind and the Army said it really needed to be moved to the edge of the extra airspace.
BLM expanded studies, and the route was placed where the Army suggested.
Now, with environmental studies complete, the Army wants the line moved again much farther north or buried.
Delay for more study: at least a year. Cost to investors: millions.
"At what point do we set the goal post in concrete?" Juen said. "With the most recent round I realize that's probably not going to happen, at least not immediately."
SunZia says burying the massive power lines is not an option and that they might just walk away if delays and costs keep piling up.
Supporters worry a dead project would scare off future investors...
"Our entire state can't remain completely undeveloped," Heinrich said. "And we need to show that we can get transmission built in New Mexico, and we can develop the private sector resources and the jobs."
Both the military and the BLM say they believe a compromise can still be found. A final decision is expected by October.
SunZia says if a final route is approved it hopes to have the new power lines up in less than three years at a cost of $1.5 billion.
An Albuquerque Police officer involved shooting over the weekend marks the fifth since late October and city officials are taking notice.
A woman was stolen from her daughter's car, a woman who died more than five years ago.
Albuquerque police shot and killed a man Sunday night after responding to an assault call near UNM.
Deputies were led on a chase around 4 p.m. Monday after a person called 911 to report their vehicle had been stolen and was being driven recklessly around Albuquerque.
New Mexico could have hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend as legislators get ready to put together next year's budget in the upcoming legislative session.
Organizers of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl are hoping to shed the disappointing attendance numbers that weighed down the event last year when the Colorado State Rams and the Washington State Cougars face off Dec. 21.