A project to move energy from one part of the country to another is spawning controversy and environmental concerns. Vulnerable animal species such as the American burying beetle are cited.
Keystone XL Pipeline? No. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a power transmission project linking the Panhandle to the Mississippi River.
Source of the power is the wind, representing an energy future supposedly void of controversy, environmental concerns and threats to animals. Building 700 miles of high-voltage transmission lines means crossing a lot of private land and getting crosswise with many private landowners. The $2 billion project is expected to be finished by early 2016. This assumes controversy won't cause the kind of delays that have characterized the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
The northern leg of that effort, terminating in Cushing, remains on hold because of Obama administration reticence. The southern leg, also terminating in Cushing, is under way but continues to be plagued by protests. Last month, organized out-of-state protesters gathered near Stroud for the latest demonstration that will result in exactly nothing. Obama ceremoniously approved the southern leg nearly a year ago but has delayed approval for the northern leg.
Meanwhile, the Clean Line project has folks upset along virtually the entire route through Oklahoma and Arkansas. Opponents of the line can't fall back on the “dirty” energy claim, but they are unhappy about the visibility of the line and how it might affect property values. By contrast, oil and gas pipelines are visible only by the signs that mark their routes. The burying beetle and sacred Indian mounds have been invoked against Clean Line.
Either we develop green energy, which requires transmission lines, or we keep moving fossil fuels from place to place, which requires pipelines. Actually we must do both, indefinitely. The Clean Line project reminds us that even green power has environmental consequences.