Arkansas’ congressional delegation — U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, and Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman — met with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to get answers to questions they asked in September about the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, which would be build through northern Arkansas.
They issued the following statement:
“We appreciate Secretary Moniz listening to our concerns about the the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project and the use of section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to implement this project. We continue to have serious concerns that this project erodes the rights of local communities and the state of Arkansas to have a seat at the table in the decision making process.”
In September 2015, members asked the secretary to address their detailed concerns about the federal government’s possible unprecedented partnership with a third party to construct an electrical transmission project through Arkansas. The insufficient responses to their questions led members to request a meeting with Moniz in early November.
Read the delegation’s letters to Moniz here.
In November 2015, researchers at the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business found that the construction of the Plans & Eastern Clean Line project would add more than $660 million to Arkansas’ economy.
The study, commissioned by Clean Line Energy Partners, was led by Kathy Deck, director of the UA center. Read more about the study here.
UPDATE, Dec. 11:
Following the announcement from Arkansas’ delegation regarding their meeting with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, officials from Clean Line Energy released the following statement:
“Over the past five and a half years, there have been individual and group outreach meetings with thousands of stakeholders and more than 10,000 comments were collected and responded to as part of the process. In addition, numerous Arkansas state agencies provided input on the routing of the project and were involved in the environmental review process. In fact, DOE formally invited all Arkansas state agencies to participate in the environmental review process that identified the route for the project. Multiple Arkansas agencies participated in the environmental review process and reviewed and commented on potential routes. These agencies include, among others: Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. DOE received and responded to more than 2,000 public comments from Arkansas stakeholders on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
“Clean Line takes private property rights seriously and is taking concrete steps to ensure that landowners and communities are treated fairly. The identification of the preferred right-of-way for the project, after more than five years of routing work, has involved extensive consultation with many stakeholders and substantial direct input from landowners. In order to identify the approximately 720-mile route, Clean Line has evaluated more than 7,000 miles of possible routes. Thousands of comments from landowners have been incorporated into the routing process, and numerous changes were made to the proposed route as a result of landowner feedback. Clean Line will continue to work with landowners and address their concerns.
“The market-leading compensation package to landowners for easements includes payment of 100% of the fee value of land in the easement area, annual payments for each transmission structure, and payments for any crop yield reductions. Clean Line anticipates making over $30 million in payments to Arkansas landowners for easements and upfront transmission structure payments. In addition, Clean Line will pay Arkansas counties that host the electric transmission project a total of approximately $140 million in voluntary payments over the first 40 years of operation, which will support local schools, fire departments and other community services.
“Clean Line continues to work with federal policymakers, state leadership and all stakeholders to follow the appropriate processes that ensure a fair hearing for all involved in the development of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project. Clean Line is pleased to speak with anyone who has questions or concerns about the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is a pro-jobs, pro-consumer, pro-environment public energy infrastructure project that will modernize America’s grid and create a cleaner energy future for the country.”