|U.S. agrees to revise powerline plan|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Friday, 06 July 2012 09:30|
The federal government has agreed to re-evaluate and revise a Bush-era network of pipeline and powerline corridors across the West that threatened sensitive wildlife habitat and sensitive landscapes.
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups. Those groups – including The Wilderness Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Sierra Club – argued that federal government’s 6,000-mile corridor plan did not engage the public and state and local governments in the process of locating the corridors; adequately consider the impact the proposed pipeline and powerline routes might have on national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, proposed wilderness areas and threatened or endangered species; focus on or facilitate access to renewable energy development; consider opportunities for less-damaging routes.
Groups like the Nevada Wilderness Project understand that renewable energy development on public lands makes sense if it reduces carbon emissions. Climate change is already having an impact on wide swaths of wildlife habitat and rangeland, and we need to do something to reverse that.
Replacing gas- and coal-fired power plants with utility-scale solar power plants and wind farms requires a transmission network, and it’s imperative that the energy projects and the transmission corridors they rely on don’t make matters worse for wildlife habitat and sensitive landscapes.
Fixing the proposed routes for these pipelines and transmission lines will help this effort. The original Bush Administration plan, unveiled in 2008, connected coal and fossil-fuel power plants to the West’s electric grid but pretty much ignored areas with solar, wind and geothermal possibilities.
Nevada could see some immediate benefits from the agreement. Two of the original corridors likely would have affected the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, home to the desert bighorn, and three wilderness areas – the Delamar Mountains, Arrow Canyon and Meadow Valley.
Another beneficiary could be the proposed 23,000-acre Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. A mile-wide transmission line corridor runs through the area, but under this agreement it’s likely that NV Energy, which has proposed the line, will face tougher reviews and restrictions and may want to use an alternate route that skirts the proposed monument.