This past week, the Dept. of Energy handed out the gift that NYRI (New York Regional Interconnect), the proposer of a high transmission power line through Sullivan County, has been waiting for. Basically, the U.S. Dept. of Energy has designated a large swath of the east coast, including all the NY counties that the NYRI power line will run through, as a "national interest electric transmission corridor."
That designation effectively takes approval and oversight out of state hands and puts it in the hands of the Federal government. Oh, the Republicans wouldn’t be so blatant to trample on states’ rights, would they? Of course not. They have to maintain the illusion of states’ rights, so an applicant like NYRI does have to struggle through the state approval process for 12 months. Then, if they don’t get the approvals they want, they can go right to the Feds for approval, trumping state oversight. And the magic trump card in all of this? Federal approval includes the right to take property for the project by eminent domain.
So NYRI has no further motivation to explore alternate routes, which was being required by NY state, or hold any more of those ‘town meetings’ to maintain the charade of getting input and paying attention to local concerns. No, now they can go straight to the very energy-friendly Bush administration and get what they want.
Yes, the Energy Dept. will hold some hearings. But this is not an administration with a track record of saying ‘No’ to BIG ENERGY. Any of you Republicans with nice, expensive property along the power line route, or in view of it — you’ll have a front row seat to this administration’s pro-Big Energy policies coming home to roost. Its not just the faraway Alaskan National Wilderness that this administration is willing to sacrifice for Big Energy profits, its your back yard. But you can console yourself that you’re ‘giving one up for the gipper’.