The policies and goals of National Environmental Policy (42 U.S.C. § 4331, Congressional declaration of national environmental policy) are intended to:
(1) fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations;
(2) assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings;
(3) attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences;
(4) preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment which supports diversity and variety of individual choice;
(5) achieve a balance between population and resource use which will permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life’s amenities; and
(6) enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources.
What our federal government failed to consider in its study are the very real impacts the Plains & Eastern project (P&E) will impose on one segment of society for the sole benefit of another. That the beneficiaries of the Plains & Eastern project are intended to be economically advantaged and politically influential eastern cities with a “green” conscience, and that the ones who must make the social and economic sacrifice to meet this need are rural landowners without political clout does not seem to have been of moment in the study.
Rural landowners and farmers have been fulfilling their responsibilities as trustees of the land that feeds us all for generations. P&E will interfere with their responsibilities. In addition, P&E will also interfere with their ability to make a living, bisecting small farms that provide income and/or real estate investment wealth to those who depend on their land for economic purposes.
P&E will preclude the ability of rural landowners in Oklahoma and Arkansas to live in safe, healthful, productive, and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings as unsightly, gigantic transmission lines may endanger their well-being and interfere with their productivity and sense of place.
P&E is not without environmental effect. Weighing the destruction of one part of the environment to benefit another is not a matter of simple trade offs when there are other options available that are not as damaging to the environment. P&E has not been determined needed to meet any identified public policy goal by any authority tasked with planning the electric grid. P&E has no customers. Other options exist for eastern cities, such as offshore wind, local solar, or other local and regional renewable energy projects that provide local jobs and economic stimulation. Americans are not being given a choice, where market forces determine their best option. Participation in P&E by the Department of Energy is a top-down, government-forced “solution” to a problem that does not exist.
P&E will affect the historic, cultural and natural aspects of the rural environment, causing rural landowners to sacrifice for the needs of eastern cities. There is no balance here, all the sacrifice is coming from one segment of society, while all the benefits flow to the other. What are eastern cities willing to sacrifice for their “green” conscience? Atlantic offshore wind has been struggling to be built for years, but rejected time and again for esthetic or cost reasons. When eastern cities are faced with having to live with the infrastructure that supports their habits, they reject it in favor of other solutions. When those solutions remove the sacrifice, but not the benefits, to rural landowners in other states, the intent of national environmental policy is forgotten. This paradigm has existed for decades, where Ohio Valley residents have sacrificed their health, environment and economic interests to mine and burn coal that is turned into electricity and transmitted to eastern cities. P&E is just more of the same sacrifice of one segment of society for the needs of another.
There is no balance to be found between population and resource when the needs of the many continually override the needs of the few. No Americans are disposable at the whim of others, no matter the color of their skin or their economic position. Wide sharing of life’s amenities requires that each person accept responsibility for their own needs. If eastern cities require cleaner energy, they have the ability to create it themselves, and in fact, many already are doing so. Top down government solutions, such as P&E, are inconsistent with individual choice.
Rural America is a finite resource that is fast disappearing and must receive careful consideration in DOE's EIS.
I believe the underlying mission of the federal government has been forgotten in the preparation of the EIS and, instead, a blinders-clad bureaucracy has simply proceeded through the motions of preparing it without considering its purpose. P&E is asking the federal government to wield the sledgehammer of eminent domain to force its project on a rural America that has rejected P&E. Integral to the big picture is the fact that P&E is nothing more than a business plan, an idea for profit, and does not fulfill any identified reliability, economic or public policy need. There is no amount of sacrifice that is acceptable for the pecuniary interests of private investors.
Don't forget to file your EIS comments here! Deadline is March 19!