Sunday, January 10, 2010

County Commissioners @ Odds w/ BLM

Follow existing transmission lines
Story Discussion Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010 12:00 am | 1 Comment

As a cooperating agency, Lincoln County submitted comments on the Idaho Power Company and Rocky Mountain Power Company's proposed transmission line project in Wyoming and the comments were limited to the development of reasonable alternatives for consideration by the Bureau of Land Management in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

In our scoping comments, the Board of County Commissioners has repeatedly asked that the new Gateway West Transmission Line follow, as closely as possible, the existing transmission corridor through the county and that this be the preferred alternative. We have never wavered from this stance. This was the Governor's Office preferred route as well. And, the public has overwhelmingly supported this as the preferred route.

What is interesting to us as commissioners is that the BLM's preferred route is not the one supported by public comments, cooperating agencies or state and local governments. Obviously the question arises, "Who is the BLM listening to?" Is there anyone (outside the BLM) who supports this route?

In an effort to demonstrate its commitment to ongoing cooperation with BLM, the operators revised the proposed routing to address BLM concerns. None of the revised modifications, however, addressed ours or the public's concerns. We commend the operators for trying their best to appease the lead agency, even though it greatly adds to their construction expenses.

As county commissioners we support the request to expand transmission corridors. We understand the bottleneck that exists exporting our products to the major markets. However, we have serious concerns about the NEPA process being employed and the BLM's unwillingness to "listen." We are troubled why the BLM refuses to acknowledge these existing "corridors" simply because they were not permitted under NEPA. Regardless of whether the existing lines were permitted under NEPA or not, everyone else acknowledges them as a transmission corridor. We support the BLM's interest in protecting scenic views and believe that those interests will best be protected by following the transmission lines already in existence.


Board of County Commissioners, Lincoln County
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