WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Dardanelle) and John Boozman (R-Rogers) filed an amendment last month to block funding to the Plains and Eastern Clean Line high-voltage transmission line proposal.
Cotton and Boozman have attempted to block all federal funds to the $2.5 billion project that would include construction through the Arkansas River Valley, a proposed converter station to be built in Pope County and the promise of thousands of new jobs.
Cotton pointed out that the project has been fiercely debated throughout Arkansas dating back to 2010, including Clean Line’s application, which the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) denied in 2011.
“I have concerns regarding the use of eminent domain and believe such a power should be granted only in cases which benefit the communities impacted by its use,” he said.
“In order to help protect landowners and preserve the states’ rights over eminent domain within their lands, I introduced the Assuring Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act (S. 485) earlier this Congress.
“This legislation would restore the rights of states to have final say over the use of eminent domain for electric transmission projects within their territory. It has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for further review.”
Despite his opposition and the application denial from the Arkansas PSC, the Department of Energy approved the Plains and Eastern Clean Lines Section 1222 application in March and said it would also participate in the project’s development.
Every congressman in D.C. who represent Arkansas did not approve.
“This approval is indicative of the trend of executive overreach that has plagued our nation,” Cotton said.
“Secretary Moniz has usurped the will of Arkansans, and formed a partnership with a private company previously denied the right to operate within the Natural State by the PSC. Reversing this decision through the passage of the APPROVAL Act, and championing state autonomy with regard to the use of eminent domain remains a top priority.”
A University of Arkansas study showed that the near-700-mile high voltage transmission line from Clean Line Energy Partners LLC based in Houston, Texas, would deliver 4,000 megawatts of wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to utilities and customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and other markets in the Mid-South and Southeast areas.
“The Department of Energy’s partnership with Clean Line Energy to build a large power line through Arkansas will impact landowners across the state,” Boozman, who voiced his opinion against the project last November during a visit to Russellville, said.
“I’m concerned about this blatant government overreach and its attack on private property rights. I’m working with members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation to prevent this federal land grab.”
Clean Line said in March a converter station would be built in Pope County and deliver 500 megawatts (MW) of power to more than 160,000 Arkansas homes annually.
Last December, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) identified a preferred route for the direct current (DC) transmission line and identified its preferred locations for the delivery converter station.
Alison Millsaps, spokesman for Golden Bridge, LLC (Block Plains & Eastern Clean Line: Arkansas and Oklahoma, Arkansas Citizens Against Plains & Eastern Clean Line and other parties), said their organization appreciated the senators’ efforts to protect the state and its citizens from unnecessary federal overreach.
“As an organization, we are focused on ensuring that affected landowners understand their substantive and procedural rights, and we remain committed to exploring all available options to help Arkansas landowners avoid the many significant impacts attributable to the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project,” Millsaps added.