The form letter encourages the hoi polloi and affected landowners to make comment on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It insinuates that the public's only avenue for participation in a process that could ultimately condemn and take their property via eminent domain is through the EIS. This is preposterous.
The EIS simply decides where to put the transmission line to cause the least environmental damage. It does not prevent environmental (or historic, cultural, and socioeconomic) damage. Damage is allowed, as long as the company perpetrating it makes payment for "mitigation." In other words your land and environment is for sale to the highest bidder. Confining your comments to the EIS is a losing, feel-good way to contain you and stop you from causing a ruckus until after the decision is made. By that time, it will be too late.
During any state jurisdictional transmission permitting process, affected landowners may intervene and participate in the hearing process, providing evidence and pleading their case to the Public Service Commission who will ultimately make the decision on permitting and siting. The DOE's Section 1222 "program" doesn't provide you landowner stakeholders with any due process to participate in the decision making.
Instead, companies standing to profit from Sec. 1222 were having their own little private party with DOE, urging DOE to hurry up and sign up to be Clean Line's land agent.
Due process? No. Landowners were being excluded. So, the landowners crashed the party. And the best DOE could offer them is this unhelpful FAQ?
A couple of affected landowners who looked at the FAQ last night has more questions than answers. Everything from "what is OE?" to "what ever happened to Clean Line's Grain Belt Express Sec. 1222 application?"
What are the statutory requirements for a project under Sec. 1222? DOE skips over this while patting you on the head and telling you not to worry about all that complicated stuff:
The DOE will conduct a thorough review that includes making all required statutory findings as well as consideration of the proposed project’s environmental impacts, the project’s technical and economic feasibility, and whether the project is in the public interest.
What is "other due diligence?"
DOE will decide whether to participate in the proposed project, a decision which would include route selection, once all environmental reviews and other due diligence have been completed. The earliest a decision could be made is at least 30 days after issuing the Final EIS, which is not expected before 2015.
Issues Not Addressed in the EIS: Before DOE conducts its review of all of the factors discussed above, the applicant will be required to submit further information and update its original application. Once DOE receives the updated information, and deems the application complete, it will provide notice that the application is available for public review through a notice in the Federal Register and an announcement on the OE website. Publication of this notice in the Federal Register will begin a 45-day public comment period. The notice will describe how to comment on the application for the proposed project. All comments submitted during the comment period will be considered in the DOE’s ultimate decision as to whether to participate in the proposed project under the Section 1222 program.
So, what to do? Keep asking questions! Submit your additional questions here and encourage Angela to flesh out her confusing FAQ. And be sure to ask her... "Where's the due process for affected landowners?"