Landowners, at the request of Will Chavez, a reporter with the Cherokee Phoenix, concerned with continued possibility of an overhead direct current power line, constructed by Clean Line Energy, being built through Sequoyah County met Wednesday to discuss current activity of the company.
“The thing we are seeing now is the Clean Line representatives knocking on doors and asking for permission to conduct an environmental study, when in fact they are conducting easement surveys,” Daron Harrison, said. “One talked with me at length and blatantly misrepresented what he was doing for the company.”
“People need to read the small print on anything Clean Line offers, before they sign it or they may be signing for permission for Clean Line to conduct easement surveys,” Harrison said.
Steve MacDonald, who hosted the meeting, and Harrison want all landowners to know the environmental study had already been completed.
“People don’t realize that the smaller the amount of acreage they own the greater the impact will be,” MacDonald said. “The easement will take one acre out of every three that it crosses.”
Steve Parrish, a landowner near Moonshine Road, said the easement that Clean Line is seeking would encompass almost his entire 20 acres.
According to the maps that are available online and through the Department of Energy, to the landowners, a 200-foot lattice tower would be constructed on every 40 acres include on the route plan.
“Clean Line is using deception and subterfuge to get landowners to sign away their rights,” Harrison said. “If landowners sign what is presented to them, they will wind up getting a bid packet for the easement. They are effectively giving up all rights at that point.”
Bryan Warner, Cherokee Tribal Councilman, told the landowners he had spoken with chief Bill John Baker and other tribal leaders, who all stand against Clean Line coming through any part of Sequoyah County.
“We own the Arkansas River bed, where they are going to have to cross and they will have to get permission before they do,” Warner said. “I have talked to a lot of people about it, but I have never heard from anyone who wants the project to go through.”
“One of the problems, is things have quietened down. People have forgotten about Clean Line trying to create good will with their promises of new jobs and very little interference with the landowners or the promise of wooden poles, only slightly bigger than the electric poles,” Macdonald said.
“Property will decrease in value and the ad valorem taxes will decline and that will decrease the taxes that support our schools,” County Commissioner, District 3, Jim Rogers, said.
For nearly two hours, local landowners discussed what they considered Clean Line’s underhanded ways of obtaining the land for a project that would take wind energy, created in Oklahoma’s western panhandle and moved through the towering cables over head to supposedly end in the Tennessee Valley Authority for sales and distribution.
“Here is another point of the deception being used by Clean Line representatives,” Rogers said. “The TVA won’t even consider this type of electricity until at least 2030. So where are the customers who are supposedly willing to buy this energy? If there were a true need, here in Oklahoma, we would probably all be willing for this project to come through. It’s not about need, but greed.”
Rogers continued to say the end user of energy carried through the overhead lines that Clean Line wants to construct, would be 40 percent to 60 percent higher than what they are currently paying.
“There is nothing for Oklahoma in this Clean Line project,” State Representative candidate Tom Stites said. “The jobs created would be temporary, low level jobs. Sure we would have a few more people in the hotels or eating in our restaurants, but most of the work crews would be from out of town as would the repair crews that Clean line has promised.”
MacDonald said the state of Arkansas is strictly opposed to the plan as are landowners, like Jim and Kathy Wilburn, who attended the meeting.
“We’ve worked hard to be able to come back here and buy the land we wanted and make the improvements,” Kathy Wilburn said. “There is too much history, too much culture that this project would destroy if it is allowed to be built.”
Macdonald and Harrison encouraged the landowners to be aware of the tactics being used by Clean Line representatives and to talk to their neighbors and let them know the Clean Line project is far from dead.
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