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Federal impact statement on Clean Line released

Potential environmental impacts from the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line wind energy transmission project across Oklahoma and Arkansas are on public view.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s draft environmental impact study for the 720-mile, high-voltage-direct-current transmission line can be found at www.PlainsAndEasternEIS.com. Public comment will conclude March 19.

At least 10 alternative routes are given for the eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas “Regions 3 and 4” section of the proposed line. The project aims to carry 3,500 megawatts of wind-generated electricity from the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle to the Tennessee Valley Authority near Memphis.

A 500-megawatt converter substation in central Arkansas is also part of the proposal.

“If the project moves forward, it’s hard to see it not going in,” Mario Hurtado, co-founder and executive vice president of development for Clean Line Energy, said of the Arkansas substation. “It’s an improvement on the project by offering enough energy for 160,000 homes.”

Now in its fourth year, the project has seen two years of public comment period. The Arkansas substation idea came through public input.

“The release of the Draft EIS marks an enormous step for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project,” Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy in Houston, stated in a news release. “After a multi-year process that involved input from thousands of stockholders and a tremendous amount of analysis and though, we are very pleased with the quality and depth of the information presented in the Draft EIS.”

Agencies involved in the impact study include Southwestern Power Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For those without Internet access, copies of the impact statement can be found at the Van Buren Public Library, 1409 Main St., Van Buren; the Franklin County Library, 120 S. Second St., Ozark; and the Johnson County Library, 2 Taylor Circle, Clarksville.

The impact statement noted potential effects on scenic drives like the Pig Train Scenic Byway, and recreation/wildlife area segments on Big Piney Creek and the Mulberry River.

Among the hundreds of pages of the statement, it is noted that Regions 4 and 5, which include Crawford, Franklin and Johnson counties, would see “the most impact of deforestation through clearing” along the route for the 200-foot right of way.

Region 3 includes the central east Oklahoma area and would see “the most difficulty in avoiding potential disturbance, avoidance, loss, or degradation of suitable aquatic habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrate species,” the impact statement says.

“In addition, areas with the greatest amount of surface water and potential aquatic habitat in the ROW, such as Region 3, which has the most perennial streams, reservoirs, lakes, and ponds, would be the most likely to potentially impact surface waters that could provide habitat to fish and aquatic species,” the statement reads.

Hurtado said emails and letters will be seen as just as important as statements made at public meetings. The Department of Energy will hold 15 public hearings. For Region 4, the meeting will be 5-8 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Fort Smith Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A.

Written comments may be submitted via the online comment form or by mail addressed to: Plains & Eastern EIS, 216 16th Street, Suite 1500, Denver, CO 80202. The email address to send public input is comments@PlainsandEasternEIS.com. The fax number is (303) 295–2818. Mark envelopes and email subject lines as Plains & Eastern Draft EIS Comments.