WASHINGTON – The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition.
The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.
“How will you explain to your constituents … that you had a chance to slow this down and you didn’t do it?” Wolf said. “How are you going to tell them that you sided with the power companies and not with the citizens?”
Supporters say the power line corridors are needed to keep up with growth and to prevent blackouts like the one in 2003 that swept from Ohio to Canada and New York City.
“America needs available power, and especially electric power,” said John Peterson, R-Pa. “We have a system that has not worked.”
One corridor would run north from Virginia, and include most of Maryland, all of New Jersey and Delaware and large sections of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The other would stretch from Southern California into Arizona and Nevada.
The corridors designated earlier this year by the Department of Energy were a follow-up to a 2005 law that gave the federal government greater say on where high-priority transmission lines should be built.
Opponents say local rights will be pushed aside with the implementation of the new corridors. The governors of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, New York, New Jersey have written in opposition to the corridors.
The corridor designations could help private industry obtain permits from state regulators or work in conjunction with regional groups to build new lines.
Once a 60-day comment period on the corridors ends July 6, the law calls for state regulators to try to strike agreements on where new lines should be built.
The amendment – part of an energy and water spending bill – was sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. The amendment was rejected, 257-174.
By Kimberly Hefling
21 June 2007
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