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Helena Independent Record
July 26, 2011

Fact check on state’s power lines

"I’m writing regarding the recent editorial about eminent domain and the struggles over power lines. The editorial made some factual errors that need to be addressed.

First, let’s address the current controversy over siting of two power lines, the Mountain States Intertie and the Montana Alberta Tie line. Each of these lines has its own particular issues which are varied and complex.

But the editorial said there was no similar controversy when the power lines from Colstrip were built. That is simply wrong. The Colstrip lines were opposed vociferously. Some of my first political experience was on the “Hold the Line Committee” in the Bitterroot Valley which opposed the Colstrip line crossing the valley and successfully got it moved farther north."

In many ways the fight over the Colstrip line was the same as the struggles we are seeing today. Fights over power lines are very hot and very short lived. Often the opponents have little interest in broader policy issues or being part of any bigger picture. They simply want the line moved. If you move it over the next ridge the room fills with a different set of opponents. But, that does not preclude opponents from making policy and big picture arguments. Nor does that prevent public officials from mistaking the heat of a local power line fight for some kind of sustaining political base.

But the editorial also missed something very important. Traditionally the political alignment around power line projects is developers versus conservationists. That is not the case today. The editorial pointed to a piece written jointly by representatives of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a labor union that has typically been supportive of big power projects, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation’s largest environmental groups. In addition, The Montana Environmental Information Center supported the legislation revising eminent domain laws and the Western Environmental Law Center is actively working on the MSTI proposal to develop a new process for siting with broad public involvement, community education and economic analysis."



Read the full editorial here: http://helenair.com/news/opinion/fact-check-on-state-s-power-lines/article_95290b50-b747-11e0-93d1-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1UeaxgxAF

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