The Department of Energy has outlined the public comments that it will consider in drawing up the draft the environmental impact statement (EIS) for Clean Line Energy’s Plains & Eastern project.
The DOE on June 25 released the scoping summary for the project, which included public comments received during 13 public scoping meetings held between Jan. 22 and March 4 in Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Nearly 700 people registered their attendance at the meetings, but the scoping report notes that as registration was not required, more could have been in attendance.
General comments indicated opposition to the project being built across areas that would not benefit from it, specifically in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Many comments revolved around routing the line along field or property lines; following existing rights-of-way; and avoiding public lands and conservation areas, including National Audubon Society lands.
Other suggestions included burying the line and considering alternatives to the line, including hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, or wind generation. One concern listed potential impacts to a comet observatory.
The resource areas identified in scoping comments that the draft EIS will focus on include land use; land acquisition and land rights; agriculture; recreation; visual and aesthetic impacts; water resources; wildlife, including fish and critical habitat; vegetation; socioeconomic resources; environmental justice; cultural, historic and archaeological resources; geology and soils; air quality and climate change; traffic and noise; human health and safety; accidents; and electric and magnetic fields.
No scoping comments were submitted in the category of waste management.
Regarding the NEPA process, commenters said it should be held in abeyance until there is a “full and fair hearing on the merits of Clean Line’s application,” according to the scoping report.
A petition was submitted that had been signed by 411 residents of Cedarville, Ark., and Crawford County, Ark., who oppose the transmission line’s path (Segment G) through the county.
Federal agencies that are participating in the NEPA process as “cooperating agencies” –responsible for reviewing the technical approaches for impact analysis and the preliminary version of the draft and final EIS, representing the interests of the agency and engaging in public hearings associated with the issuance of the draft EIS – include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The EPA will publish a notice of availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register which will begin the public comment period, to last a minimum of 45 days. The DOE will hold public hearings during the public comment period. Any comments received will inform the DOE’s final EIS.
Plains & Eastern is a 700-mile, 600-kV transmission HVDC line that originates near Guymon, Okla., and terminates at Memphis substation, Tenn. The project is estimated to cost $2bn and will have a capacity of 3,500 MW.
This article was modified on July 16, 2013, to correct the beginning point of the project as Guymon, Okla.