More work to be done: BLM’s final assessment of Gateway South Transmission Line comes up short on environmental protections

May 12, 2016

An energy transmission line.

In response to the Bureau of Land Management’s announcement today of the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Gateway South transmission line, a 400 mile-long, 500 kV project that would run from southern Wyoming to central Utah, The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Alex Daue, Assistant Director for Energy & Climate:

"We appreciate that BLM is continuing to improve its practices for offsetting development impacts, but we’re not there yet with Gateway South,” Daue said. “We need to see a final decision that protects irreplaceable resources like lands with wilderness characteristics along the route.

“Transmission lines and other energy development projects should be planned to avoid impacting wildlands by following existing highways, transmission lines and designated utility corridors,” he added. “BLM should ensure that commitments to preserve and restore nearby lands will fully offset any unavoidable losses to lands with wilderness characteristics and sage-grouse habitat.”

Noting that the Gateway South project is proposed to follow the same route as the proposed TransWest Express transmission project in northwest Colorado, Daue said that with two of the west’s largest transmission lines proposed in this remote and beautiful area, it is even more important that BLM fulfill its obligations under agency policies and guidance to protect sensitive resources. Gateway South is also proposed to impact numerous areas with wilderness characteristics in Utah.

BLM has the opportunity to improve on the commitments in the Gateway South FEIS in the Gateway South Record of Decision (ROD) and the TransWest Express ROD, both expected later this year.