Transmission lines can be important for renewable energy, but they can have significant negative impacts on the lands they traverse.
Today, the Bureau of Land Management announced its Records of Decision (RODs) for the TransWest Express and Gateway South transmission lines. The TransWest Express ROD marks the conclusion of a multi-year application and review process for the 725-mile, four-state electricity transmission line, which runs from southern Wyoming to southern Nevada and will carry primarily wind electricity to southwestern markets. Gateway South is a 400-mile long, three-state transmission line, which runs from southern Wyoming to central Utah.
In response to the announcement, The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Alex Daue, Assistant Director for Energy & Climate:
“BLM’s approved routes for the TransWest Express and Gateway South transmission lines are extremely disappointing multi-state missed opportunities. The routes unnecessarily destroy wilderness-quality lands in northwest Colorado and eastern Nevada, as well as greater sage-grouse habitat. Readily available alternative routes could have minimized or eliminated these impacts by following highways and designated utility corridors.
“At a minimum, BLM must mandate that these lines offset their development impacts through mitigation to restore habitat and protect wildlands, which BLM’s own guidance requires for all public lands development. Today’s announcement did not include the detailed RODs, so we don’t yet know the extent to which mitigation is included.
“The BLM has made tremendous progress in advancing a ‘smart-from-the-start’ approach to siting wind and solar projects, but the same cannot yet be said for transmission lines. Unfortunately, the fact remains that with TransWest Express and Gateway South, many major impacts could have been avoided altogether with more-responsible siting.”
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.