I am writing regarding the electrical transmission line proposed by Clean Line Energy that will cross the entire width of our beautiful state. I feel the public should know both sides of this issue.
First know that there is much opposition to this project across the entire state from private citizens, public officials, state agencies and businesses. Let’s address Clean Line’s claims individually starting with jobs. The 5,000 jobs they are touting will go to the firms who have already won the bids for the construction of the line. They are from Texas and North Carolina. Understand, this type of electrical transmission line construction requires highly specialized equipment and personnel. If any local contractors are used, it will be a minimal amount since there are no firms in our area qualified to build this type of line. I know because I did electrical transmission line right-of-way work for 10 years for a large electrical utility.
Next let’s discuss all the energy that will be provided. Not one customer in Arkansas will be served by this line. All of the electricity generated in Oklahoma will go to the East Coast. There will be no benefit to the integrity of Arkansas’s energy grid.
Now let’s look at the route they are proposing. The last interactive map I saw on the Department of Energy’s website was the same as the maps I have seen at the meetings I have attended regarding this project. One proposed route enters Arkansas near Uniontown, crosses directly over the town of Cedarville and continues East across the Ozarks. If you know anything about our area, you know that Uniontown is about 10 miles north of I-40. The proposed route does not "skirt the freeway", it is 10 miles north of the freeway.
It will cross the Butterfield Trail, an Arkansas Heritage Trail, both old and new U.S. 71 North which are scenic byways, the Pig Trail which is a scenic byway, the Mulberry River a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the south end of the Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas 7 North Arkansas’s first scenic byway and the Mississippi Flyway Corridor in Eastern Arkansas, a major migratory corridor and economic boon to the area drawing duck hunters from many states.
Loss of these tourism dollars will be significant. The 200-foot-wide corridor (think I-40) will clear cut approximately 2,800 acres of hardwoods in the Ozarks destroying vital habitat. The right-of-way will encumber 24 acres per mile or 7,000 acres in the state. No building will be permitted within the right-of-way. The right-of-way will be treated with herbicides of Clean Line’s choosing from now on.
Farmers and ranchers affected by the line will have no say as to what chemicals are being used on their land or around their livestock. Citizens will lose their use of the land but will still be required to pay property taxes on the tract. The right-of-way will reduce property values on the affected lands. Do you want to buy property under a huge transmission line? Neither does anyone else.
Clean Line has claimed that they will pay full value for the rights-of-way they acquire. As one who has bought hundreds of miles of this type of right-of-way, I can tell you that was never the method of payment with which I was involved. The payment was based upon the price paid for other, similar rights-of-way that had been previously acquired in the areas.
In addition, if the Department of Energy chooses to become involved in the project, which is what Clean Line is proposing, Clean Line will be using the right of eminent domain to condemn your property and take the right-of-way if you will not cooperate. This is not about helping Arkansas in any way. This is about the Ziff brothers from New York and a major investor from Great Britain taking advantage of American tax incentives for these projects with the help of former DOE employees who are now on their payroll.
The DOE is spending $168 million of your dollars to construct several wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean taking the power directly off the ocean to the East Coast. Their own data states that the wind is more reliable on the water than on land. Why then do they need to also cause the devastation to our state as well to accomplish the same end?
The fact is, this project will do nothing for Arkansas. It will only rape our environment for no benefit to us at all. I thank our state and federal legislators, mayors and various realtor organizations who have expressed concern about the effect this will have on our state and have supported our efforts. The only officials we have not heard from are our county officials. Surely they are concerned about their constituents who will be directly affected. After all, we elect them to protect our interests. I urge you to attend these meetings and get the whole story, not just the Clean Line myth.