12.20 Lolo National Forest: Environmental analysis needed to bury power lines for big rigs
- Posted by Trish Weber
According to the Missoulian, it appears that the Lolo National Forest is responding to public pressure and will likely require an EA to bury power lines on National Forest Land.
The power line burial would be necessary for the mega-loads to travel on Highway 12, as the trucks are too large to fit beneath the existing overhead lines. The overhead-to-underground power line transition is the only aspect of the project to unequivocally fall outside of the jurisdiction of MDT and/or IDT, and require the involvement of a Federal Agency.
From the article:
The forest is currently predicting that an environmental analysis will need to be completed to address the issues the public have raised about the proposal,” Chris Partyka, environmental coordinator for the Lolo National Forest, said this week.
A timeline for the analysis will be developed after the holidays, Partyka added in an e-mail message.
The Lolo solicited public comments on the project from late August through mid-October and got nearly 19,000 of them - 18,559 - via an “Action Alert” issued by the Natural Resource Defense Council. Fewer than 200 of the alerts had unique comments, Partyka said.
A “content analysis” of the public comments hasn’t been completed. The Lolo is assessing the costs of conducting a formal review to determine which issues are relevant to the power line work. The content analysis will also help determine the level of environmental analysis that is needed.
Partyka said that because of staffing limitations, the Lolo forest will be examining whether to drop other projects to complete the analysis, to use another Forest Service enterprise team, or to hire a contractor to conduct the EA.
Lolo forest supervisor Debbie Austin initially approved the burial last spring, but rescinded the decision in July after the Nez Perce Tribe raised concerns.
props to NRDC for motivating their base to such great action!