The Woodward News

Local News

February 3, 2013

DOE discusses Clean Line impact

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — CONCERNS ABOUT IMPACT ON LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKENS

Thursday's EIS scoping meeting in Woodward was led by Jane Summerson, a DOE NEPA compliance officer.

In a presentation to an audience of about 25 people, Summerson shared a list of environmental topics that the DOE has identified as potential impacts to be analyzed in the EIS.  These topics include land use, water use, affect on wildlife, socioeconomics, historic and cultural resources, geology and soil, human health, accidents and hazards, waste management and more.

In a question and answer period following her presentation, several audience members asked questions about issues relating to one or more of these topics.

For example, relating to wildlife impacts, a couple of audience members asked about the project's potential impact on the lesser prairie chicken.  

There was concern about how if approved, the transmission line would lead to the construction of even more wind farms in prime lesser prairie chicken lands in order to provide more electricity for the transmission lines to carry.  There was also concern about how the project would proceed should the lesser prairie chicken be classified as either a threatened or endangered species.

Summerson said that the listing of the prairie chicken wouldn't prohibit construction of the transmission line.  However, she said Clean Line would have to develop a plan showing how if they could not avoid impacting the prairie chicken, they would minimize impact and mitigate that impact.  This plan would then have to be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before the project could proceed and certainly before DOE would participate, she said.

As for the construction of more wind farms, Summerson agreed that is likely should the transmission line project proceed.  However, she said whoever builds those new wind farms would have to develop their own plans to avoid, or at least minimize and mitigate the wind farms' impacts on wildlife, including the lesser prairie chicken.

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