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Letter: B2H line could empower eminent domain

Published on January 2, 2018 2:10PM

This letter is in response to Idaho Power’s intention to build a 500 kV power line through Eastern Oregon and Idaho from Boardman to Hemingway, known as B2H. There are many problems with this intended project.

If this project is approved, Idaho Power could evoke the law of eminent domain, a law created to enable government to take private land for the public good. Eminent domain laws for compensation in the case of transmission lines are among the most restrictive. Landowners would likely only be compensated for the land the tower pad is built on, with no compensation for loss in surrounding land value or loss of view.

This seems particularly galling in light of the fact that there is no public good in this project, only corporate profit.

There is already a federally designated “energy corridor,” the 386 federal corridor, set aside to be used for transmission lines. Why is this corridor not being used for the proposed transmission line? Could it be because Idaho Power does not want to bear the cost of battling with environmental groups regarding impacts to public lands? Instead they’ll push it through a new route, without notification or the meaningful involvement of residents.

I refuse to get ensnared in arguments about a preferred route for the transmission line. I will not use my mental and emotional resources to fight with my fellow citizens regarding the placement of B2H because no land anywhere deserves to be blighted with this line. The reasons for the project are wrong, at their core and throughout. Before we talk about where to place the line, we need to question if it is needed at all.

Idaho Power has gotten permission to cross BLM land with the B2H line that is less than half the length of the line. To finish getting approval for the line they must pass bureaucratic hurdles from the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Facilities Siting Council, and Public Utility Commissions in both Idaho and Oregon.

Idaho Power will likely face lawsuits from the Oregon California Trail Association, the STOP B2H Coalition, agricultural interests, and residential property owners. There are many opportunities yet to stop this line. Let’s stand together to demand accountability from Idaho Power and sovereignty from corporations in Eastern Oregon.

Kathryn Andrew

La Grande


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