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Power Task Force reacts to transmission line plan

By By Jake Taylor
Published On: Nov 15 2012 11:30:02 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 16 2012 11:49:14 AM CST

Power Task Force reacts to transmission line plan

POWER COUNTY, Idaho -

Some folks in Power County are finding a lot they don't like about what the BLM is calling it's preferred route for the Gateway Transmission Line.

Power and Cassia counties had a plan for the line they'd approved that stayed mostly in public land without much impact on private landowners and farmers.

But recently BLM released it's Environmental Impact Statement and included in the thousands of pages is a preferred plan very different than what many locals expected.

"And this change of route has kind of thrown us into a scrambling process to analyze the new route. There are 40 to 50 new landowners, new farmers who weren't implicated before,” Power County Gateway Transmission Line Task Force Spokesmen Doug Balfour said.

The BLM said the route approved by the county would have endangered sage grouse habitat and got the thumbs down from Fort Hall.

"We've been working with the tribes. And they took a look at it and basically said it wasn't in the best interest of the tribes to pursue that. So we had to go back to the drawing board,” BLM Supervisory Recourse Management Specialist Blaine Newman said.

So, a number of Power County farmers may see the construction of transmission line towers bigger than any the state's ever seen.

Balfour said it could have devastating affects on farmers.

"You would have to irrigate and farm around this huge tower. And many farmers told me if they're stuck with a tower in the middle of the field they'll just give up farming,” Balfour said.

The BLM said the concerns aren't falling on deaf ears and nothing's set in stone.

"There's no decision made yet. Basically that's part of the process to look at different alternatives,” Newman said.

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