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An open letter to Rock Island Clean Line from lawmakers  

Credit:  Rep. Bobby Kaufmann | The Des Moines Register | December 17, 2015 | www.desmoinesregister.com ~~

To the Rock Island Clean Line:

In Iowa we have a history of working with landowners to obtain energy project rights.

You don’t seem to understand this concept. Instead, you have fumbled through a disjointed effort to manipulate the system by filing a series of requests to the Iowa Utilities Board.

First, when you didn’t get the response you wanted from landowners, you requested that all activity on your project be suspended indefinitely. After nearly three years, only 11 percent of Iowa landowners (177 out of 1,540) provided voluntary easements for your project.

Next, you requested the “restart” of the IUB franchise approval process.

Then you file – yet a third time – a request asking for the agency to bifurcate, or separate, its review into two parts, while acknowledging that it would be, “different from the historical norm in Iowa.” As Texas-based owners of a commercial, large-scale transmission line, you seem to feel entitled to change Iowa practice.

IUB has reviewed your two-option approach: Landowners either turn over their property through voluntary easements or face having their land taken through eminent domain. You have been told twice already by IUB that it will not agree to separate the eminent domain issue from the balance of your application. And yet you continue to try to lower your upfront project costs and get the upper hand in negotiating Iowans out of their land.

Nice try.

You are not a utility. You have no intention of letting Iowans plug in to your project, nor do you plan to let us sell power along your route. We hope that it doesn’t have to come to us passing legislation to keep you in check, but we will if it has to come to that. Please have no doubt that the House Government Oversight Committee will be watching your every move. We are tired of your threat to blight hundreds of landowners’ properties while you “weigh your options” or propose newly extended procedural schedules.

We staunchly oppose the use of eminent domain for your project, and regulators in Missouri agree. Missouri has denied a “certificate of need and necessity” required to build one of your merchant lines through their state. Their rejection of eminent domain raises further concerns that your Grain Belt Express line will now need to be re-routed through our state and others, requiring an even bigger land-grab from Iowans for your commercial use.

In order to ensure your project moves forward – even without state approval – you have broadened your approach to include a federal legislative effort. Senate Energy Bill 1017 would grant eminent domain authority despite our state laws.

Please understand the depth of staunch and unbending opposition we have to this concept. We are lobbying our congressional and Senate delegation to prevent you from ever having that tool.

To Sens. Grassley and Ernst and Congressmen King, Young, Blum and Loebsack:

We cordially write you to ask you to oppose Senate Energy Bill 1017. This bill was introduced on April 21 by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and it aims to amend and “improve” the siting of interstate transmission lines. In Iowa the Rock Island Clean Line hopes to gain access to 1,540 Iowa land easements. After nearly three years (which would be expanded to four under its recent filing proposing a new schedule) they are stuck at only 11 percent who have signed voluntarily. This bill would grant federal eminent domain to projects such as RICL and supersede all state laws and regulatory authority. We understand that this bill hasn’t obtained traction yet but we write out of concern that it could appear later in the form of an amendment. We strongly oppose this and respectfully ask that you do, too.

This letter was signed by 23 Republican members of the Iowa House: Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, Rep. Pat Grassley, Rep. Greg Heartsill, Rep. Clel Baudler, Rep. Dawn Pettengill, Rep. John Wills, Rep. Gary Carlson, Rep. Brian Best, Rep. John Landon, Rep. Brian Moore, Rep. Quentin Stanerson, Rep. Josh Byrnes, Rep. Larry Sheets, Rep. Joel Fry, Rep. Steve Holt, Rep. Dean Fisher, Rep. Norlin Mommsen, Rep. Ross Paustian, Rep. Lee Hein, Rep. Walt Rogers, Rep. John Kooiker, Rep. Sandy Salmon and Rep. Mike Sexton.

Source:  Rep. Bobby Kaufmann | The Des Moines Register | December 17, 2015 | www.desmoinesregister.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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