Yesterday, March 28, 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District issued its decision in the Mark Twain Transmission Line Project. In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals vacated the Report and Order issued by the PSC. The court ruled that a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), which grants the utility the authority to build the transmission project, can only be issued after a utility has received permission from a county to build a power line. This decision negates the CCN that was granted by the PSC last year. That CCN had approved the line on the condition that ATXI obtain the permission to hang the lines over county roads from each of the 5 affected counties. The CCN granted overstepped the PSC’s authority, because the hearing should never have been heard unless and until the PSC received the county assents given to the utility.
This is a tremendous victory for our members and our local government. For almost three years local citizens of these 5 counties have struggled to have their voices and concerns heard. Too often big corporations, like ATXI come into our communities and talk about knowing what is in the best interests, and then bring big money to try to drown out the local citizenry. They rely on statements like “in the best interest of the state”, “lower costs”, future opportunities, etc. They forget that people, like those members of Neighbors United, who work the land, live in the community, raise families, pay taxes and vote, need to have a voice in the process as well. When the local citizens try to give their input, companies like ATXI turn around and demonize the hard working people who only want to protect their livelihood and property.
Yesterday every one of the citizens of the 5 counties involved in opposing the Mark Twain Transmission Line Project, were vindicated. Not only were the citizens of the counties directly affected finally justified, but all of the citizens of Missouri were on the right side of the law. Yesterday, the courts guaranteed that the voice of the individual citizens in this great state should be and can be heard. The courts vindicated what we, the members of Neighbors United Against Ameren’s Power Line have been saying since 2014 – big business must cooperate with local government and individuals for the good of everyone. The process of approving CCN’s and utility applications by the PSC must be accompanied by input of local government and citizens.
The input of our elected county officials is just as important as the engineers, the input of state and federal agencies, the big money, the profits, and convenience of conglomerates such as ATXI. For the past 3 years, we have fought to have our voices heard. Yesterday, the court gave a voice to the farmers, ranchers and local citizens of Neighbors United as well to all the citizens of Missouri. They ensured that local governments are not overlooked or ignored. They guaranteed local governments a place in the decision making processes that affect their constituents the most.