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Feds Sketch Out Energy Corridors

by Dave Wilkins
Capital Press, December 4, 2008

Fuel, electric lines would cross parts of 11 Western states

The federal government has released a final report on its proposed designation of energy transportation corridors spanning more than 6,000 miles across 11 Western states.

Designation of energy routes will assist in the future siting of oil, gas and hydrogen pipelines, electric transmission lines and distribution facilities on federal lands, officials said.

The release on Nov. 26 of a final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement identifies 6,132 miles as designated energy transmission corridors that may be needed to meet the region's growing energy demands.

Up till now, federal land management agencies have often designated energy corridors and rights-of-way when local projects were proposed.

Designating preferred routes in advance will allow participating agencies to mitigate environmental effects and reduce conflicts with other uses of federal land, said Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

"The results of this work will speed the process of siting energy infrastructure in the West," Allred said in a news release.

The designated corridors cross parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Eighty-two percent of the corridors are located on BLM-managed lands, while 16 percent are on Forest Service lands.

BLM and Forest Service lands are managed for recreation, timber, mining, livestock grazing, oil and gas production and other purposes.

Construction and operation of specific projects along the designated corridor could, in some instances, restrict land use such as mining or military exercises, federal officials acknowledged.

But in most cases, development would be compatible with current use of the land, they said.

Federal agencies have proposed a corridor width of 3,500 feet - enough to accommodate the construction and operation of multiple pipelines or transmission lines.

The agencies tried to consider sensitive areas such as conservation lands in putting together the proposed corridors.

Still, some segments cross BLM conservation lands in every state but Montana and Washington. National forests are crossed by proposed corridors in four states: California (Trinity and Shasta), Oregon (Mt. Hood and Fremont), Washington (Wenatchee) and Wyoming (Ashley and Medicine Bow).

During a public comment period on the draft PEIS, federal agencies heard concerns about the proposed locations of specific corridor segments.

In some cases, small isolated segments were eliminated and in others corridor locations were moved to avoid sensitive areas.

All specific projects proposed within the designated corridor will still be subject to environmental review and analysis, officials said.

Related Sites:
The full PEIS report, along with maps, is available at

Dave Wilkins, Staff writer based in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Feds Sketch Out Energy Corridors
Capital Press, December 4, 2008

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