BLM reviews power line comments

Apr 8 2011 - 7:54pm

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The Bureau of Land Management has received about 650 individual comments about a proposed $3 billion power line that would run through Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Nevada.

The agency has also received a 3-inch-thick pack of comments and information from about a dozen conservation and environmental groups.

BLM project manager Sharon Knowlton said in an email Friday that the comments from individuals are mostly in favor of the project, although they express concerns, including that the line should avoid sensitive species, private land, special sites, national parks and military areas.

Knowlton is still going through the package submitted by the conservation and environmental groups, which include the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

"It's pretty much consolidated into one comment," said Richard Garrett, advocate with the organization. "There are region-specific or state-specific comments. In Wyoming, for example, we were particularly interested in routing to avoid core sage grouse habitat and migratory bird patterns. We're also interested in avoiding cultural and historic resources."

TransWest Express, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corp., wants to build the 725-mile line from south-central Wyoming through northwestern Colorado, Utah, and into Nevada.

The line would carry power to about 1.8 million homes in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

The BLM will review the comments and then draft a report recommending a specific route and alternatives, agency spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said.

"The comments are intended to help us make better decisions, and so, therefore, these comments may have been reflective to show us maybe a better location or a mitigation measure or something relative to this project," Gorny said Friday.

Gorny said a draft plan from the BLM won't be available until next year, and that would be followed by more public comment and a final decision. At best, actual construction of the power line would begin no sooner than sometime in 2013.

"Considering the length of the project of over 700 miles and the four states involved, it's a lot more complicated and detailed project than, say, a single site project that would encompass maybe just acreage inside of one state or inside of one county," she said.

Duane Short, wild species program director with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, which is among the groups submitting comments, said that while certain preferred routes for the power line were identified in Wyoming, it doesn't necessarily mean that different routes could still be proposed.

"We're still hopeful that they still will look at other options."

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