Thursday, May 29, 2014

Obama Admin Retools Sprawling Western 'Energy Corridor'

The West-wide Energy Corridor map (draft, November 2007). Click map for larger version with legend (PDF format). (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)
The Obama administration is slowly taking the first steps to revise potentially large sections of a congressionally designated 6,000-mile-long energy corridor as mandated by a nearly 2-year-old legal settlement with environmental groups that claimed the original corridor unnecessarily tore through sensitive landscapes and fails to advance renewable energy development.

But it could be years before any substantive revisions are made to dozens of contested sections of the "West-wide Energy Corridor" that stretches across 11 Western states and nearly 3 million acres of public land, including federal wildlife refuges and key habitat for greater sage grouse.  That's due mostly to a lack of federal funding that has prevented the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and the Department of Energy from even starting a base-line corridor study that was supposed to be completed in July.

The agencies are also waiting for Congress to allocate money for a more detailed, landscape-level review of the corridor -- a key provision of the 2012 legal settlement with conservation groups that is supposed to correct contested sections of the corridor that if left unchanged could allow transmission lines and oil, natural gas and hydrogen pipelines through sensitive areas such as along the border of Arches National Park in southern Utah.

BLM, the Forest Service and DOE likely will not meet a deadline this summer to submit the first round of recommended changes or deletions to sections of the corridor, as per the legal settlement, though federal officials say they are confident the corridor review study will begin this summer and that the first regional review will kick off this fall.

Obama Admin Retools Sprawling Western 'Energy Corridor'

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