Sen. Tom Cotton called me recently to give us the best news we’ve had in six years. The Department of Energy had terminated its “Participation Agreement” with Clean Line Energy’s Plains and Eastern transmission line. He said he felt the law was on our side, that we were right in our stances, but, primarily, we were persistent.
Among the thousands of comments in opposition to this project from citizens and organizations, there were those who made a particular difference in stopping this behemoth. First, thanks to our federal delegation, Sens. John Boozman and Cotton, and Reps. Steve Womack, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford. Without their direct access to the DOE and exertion of constant pressure, we would not have succeeded. And to our state legislators, Sens. Bryan King and Gary Stubblefield, Reps. Charlotte Vining-Douglas, Charlene Fite, Rick Beck and former Reps. Bill Gossage and Larry Prater. They adopted resolutions, wrote letters in opposition and passed laws in order to protect our state’s rights and landowner’s property rights.
Thanks to the county judges who opposed this line, former mayor of Cedarville, Glenanna O’Mara, original opposition member, and Mayor Gary Baxter of Mulberry. And lastly, the citizens group including Alison Millsaps and Dave Ulery from Pope County, Jerry Harry and Dr. P.J. Broadfoot from Crawford County, attorney Jordan Wimpy, representing farmers in Eastern Arkansas, and his father we know as “Mr. Wimpy.” Each had a niche and filled it perfectly.
Clean Line was never a viable operation. All five of the projects across the nation have been thwarted by landowners, courts and regulatory agencies. After hundreds of millions of dollars, not one spade of dirt has been turned.
A word to the wise: one should not assume that money is the be all, end all to everyone. Some of us value the heritage in our land more than filthy lucre. Another is, don’t assume that you are dealing with people who are too stupid to get it. That is how Clean Line treated landowners. Guess who looks stupid now?
Also, be sure you have a buyer for your end product before you begin. After eight years of begging, Clean Line had not one customer. The DOE had built certain mileposts into their agreement before they would participate, including having customers and financing. Clean Line met none of them. Their business model of “if we build, it they will come” didn’t work. No one came to their party, so party over, out of time.
I am most proud of the fact that 8,000 acres of my native “Natural State” have been saved from completely needless devastation. Also, landowners will not be forced to cede land to the federal government for a totally unnecessary project.
I want Arkansans to take heart from our experience. In spite of the massive corruption in our state legislature and the fact that it seems like money is everyone’s god, the little guy does still count. If you have enough numbers, politicians will listen. Do your research, use social media wisely and most importantly, never give up.
From the beginning, people did not believe we could stop this. There were times we were so tired and discouraged we had to urge each other forward, but we did and we the people prevailed.
Here’s a word to any other billionaires who decide to come to Arkansas and bulldoze a bunch of ignorant rubes: perhaps you should read what Davy Crockett said about Arkansas “If I could rest anywhere it would be in Arkansas, where the men are of the real half-horse, half-alligator breed.” We call ourselves, Razorbacks.
Julie Morton has been an independent landman for 36 years. For 10 years, she bought electrical transmission line rights-of-way for a large utility company serving Arkansas and Oklahoma. She is a resident of Crawford County.
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