The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its final environmental impact statement last Wednesday concerning the construction of a $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line that would send wind energy from the Oklahoma panhandle into Arkansas and a handful of other states.
The DOE cited no widespread significant impacts from either the construction of or required maintenance on the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project, but groups like Golden Bridge, Block Plains & Eastern Clean Line and Arkansas Citizens Against Plains & Eastern Clean Line have all joined forces to oppose the project.
These groups are primarily headed by lawyers seeking to profit off landowners who think they’re getting gypped by the billionaire company assigning land loss to progress. Landowners would be devastated by legal fees put toward an unwinnable cause. The land won’t be lost, it’ll be used.
While it’s true some landowners will lose strips of their property— though they’ll be compensated quite well for any land occupied by the transmission line—this minor inconvenience is necessary for the larger welfare of our state, and Pope County, too.
The DOE’s statement also mentioned the locales of possible convertor stations, where the wind energy will be transferred into clean energy capable of powering homes. If the project comes to fruition, this station would be built in Pope County.
This station alone would bring power to more than 160,000 Arkansas’ homes and more than 1 million homes total, but more importantly, it would serve as a direct $100 million investment in our state, the focus of which would be located in our county.
If the nation’s DOE says the environmental impact doesn’t amount to much—certainly not as much as U.S.’s crippling dependence on coal and foreign oil—then it doesn’t make sense for our state to drag its feet giving approval to the project.
Promptly after the DOE’s statement, the Arkansas congressional delegation released a statement of its own asking the DOE to slow down its review process in an attempt to forestall the inevitable construction, which would only be reasonable if there were concerns about the environmental or socioeconomic impact of such a project.
The facts are quite the opposite, though. Aside from reducing carbon dioxide pollutants by millions of tons, the transmission line would create thousands of construction and hundreds of maintenance jobs in our state, bolstering economic development where it’s needed most.
Arkansas is also home to manufacturing plants owned by General Cable, LM Windpower and Bekaert Steel, all of which produce materials vital in making wind turbines.
The project will undoubtedly create an increased demand for these materials to build new turbines in the Oklahoma panhandle, thus growing these Arkansas’ plants and offering opportunities for more jobs.
Additional tax revenues for the state and more specifically Pope County would allow money to be spent improving schools and other long-term funding ventures.
The benefits cannot be ignored. In a state and county where the jobs, money and clean energy are needed, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project is the most logical and efficient source of energy for our future.