STOP Hunt Power & the Proposed Verde Transmission Line across wild & scenic northern NM
STOP Hunt Power & the Proposed Verde Transmission Line across wild & scenic northern NM
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Taos New Mexico Field Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is seeking input for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Verde Transmission Line Project, a 33-mile overhead 345-kiloVolt (kV) transmission power line from the Ojo Substation in southern Rio Arriba County to the Norton substation in Santa Fe County. The proposed project would cut a 33-mile swath of 150-foot Right of Way (ROW) easement with giant, ugly, dangerous 120-foot double poles every 800 feet with transmission lines slicing across wild, scenic, biologically rich, and culturally important lands of northern New Mexico. The proposed lines would transect and border sacred land, private properties, schools and cemeteries, public lands administered by the BLM, and three Pueblos (Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh, and Pojoaque), and destroy the visual resources and viewsheds of people who live near, recreate in, travel to, and appreciate the majestic, wild beauty and epic vistas of the high desert of northern New Mexico. We will see these massive power lines from the Sangre Mountains to the Jemez, from north to south, and they will irrevocably damage the iconic landscape. The proposal is a recycled project defeated in the 90's, originally called the Ole Line, and should be rejected again. There is no demonstrated need for the project and there is no benefit, only costs.
WE OPPOSE THIS PROJECT.
1) NO NEED FOR PROJECT, and NO BENEFIT TO THE RESIDENTS OF NORTHERN NEW MEXICO. The $3 billion Hunt Corporation out of Dallas TX will benefit from this project at the expense of our natural, visual, and cultural resources as well as our economy. There is no need for increased electric capacity: it has been stated by the existing power companies, PNM and Jemez Electric, that there is NO NEED for larger capacity here in the FORESEEABLE FUTURE. Our grid is stable; when Hunt Power was asked how many major outages our region has experienced, the answer was two outages in 30 years, and the longest outage was 4 hours. Grid stability is clearly not the issue.Transmission lines do not directly serve utility customers, but transport power long distances from one substation to another, and the wires are bare and uninsulated. Hunt Power has nothing to do with "green energy" or renewables: the power will come from coal-fired plants in the four corners region. No matter how they package this "verde" project, it's not green. Hunt Power will financially gain at the expense of our low income communities and our land.
2) DESTROYS RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY VALUES: Properties and homes will be hit with a 15-50% loss of value, and depending on where the line is in relation to or on a homeowner's property, there is potential loss of homeowners insurance and loss of mortgage due to the dangers of the line (such as fire, which a very real possibility in our dry and windy area) and the inability to re-sell your property due to real or perceived dangers. Even if a home's or property's viewshed isn't destroyed, property values will still drop due to loss of value of neighbor properties. Additionally, this kind of project would change the character of a community and landscape from "rural" to "industrial" and affect our ability to re-sell our homes. For most in our low income communities, property and homes are the only financial assets we have.
3) THREATENS ECONOMY: Northern New Mexican communities rely heavily on the tourism and the film industries, and these economies are threatened by the proposed transmission lines. Both industries depend upon grand, epic vistas and the majestic, largely untouched, rugged beauty of wild lands. Many movies filmed here could not have been made had these massive transmission lines been marching across the landscape. Photographers, painters, fiber artists and artists of all kinds; birders, bikers, skiers, hikers, horseback riders, climbers, kayakers and rafters, runners, hunters and fishers, guides, and recreationists of every type: all would be negatively impacted. Views of one of the most sacred and significant landmarks of northern New Mexico, Black Mesa, will be ruined by 120-foot double poles and lines cutting across the base of Black Mesa.
4) ENVIRONMENTAL and SOCIAL JUSTICE: Hunt Power has preyed upon the low income, poorly organized, older, and rural communities of northern New Mexico through seven years of closed door deals and secret meetings, claiming they have "never heard of" several communities that will be adversely impacted by their proposed project. The proposed route borders many properties and property owners were never contacted in these seven years. The transmission line would go next to an elementary school and next to other schools, and nobody on the school boards were contacted. The communities and families and children that would be adversely affected by this proposal are largely low-income and minority, and most of us had never heard of the project, or how we would be adversely affected by it, until the day of the first scoping meeting. Local agencies and government offices, land commissioners, etc. were not consulted either. We are not second class citizens.
4) FIRES AND FLOODS: Sparking from transmission lines is what caused both the Las Conchas and Thompson's Ridge fires near Los Alamos, the Tres Lagunas fire near Pecos, and the La Cueva fire. The Las Conchas Fire was the largest wildfire in the history of NM at the time it burned, burning over 156,000 acres, destroying homes, pets, and livestock in addition to all of the wildlife that were killed and injured. A jury found the electric companies to be at fault. The Junkins Fire in Pueblo CO was caused by high winds that blew a piece of a metal shed into a nearby high voltage transmission line. A PG&E transmission line sparked the Butte fire, which killed two people and burned 70,000 acres in the foothills of the Sierras. Flash flooding post-wildfire has impacted communities all over northern NM.
5) VISUAL RESOURCES: As stated, the viewsheds of homes and properties will be severely adversely impacted. There is well documented case law protecting the viewsheds of homeowners. Additionally, the proposal does not meet the standards for land use management in the the BLM's recently written Resource Management Plan (RMP) for this area. The lands affected are classified as Tier 2, a wild area rich with natural and cultural resources and epic vistas. Hunt Power's proposed project is classified as Tier 4: INDUSTRIAL. This proposed industrial project has no business here. The BLM representatives themselves said in severak public scoping meetings that the RMP would have to be REWRITTEN in order to accommodate this project that benefits nobody in NM and brings only harm. This is a waste of taxpayer money and the BLM's resources, and the legality of it is questionable. Mitigation of the visual impacts of 33 miles of wild land is hardly possible.
6) ADVERSE EFFECTS TO NATURAL RESOURCES: The proposed project would disrupt a major Rio Grande migratory bird route, which is part of the Central Flyway of North America, and the proposed route would also be less than 600ft. from a sanctuary for the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Bald eagles and sensitive raptor species winter here. Between 12 and 64 million birds are killed annually by power lines as a result of both collision and electrocution, and evidence of bird mortalities at power lines is under-recorded due to general absence of monitoring and due to scavenging. Transmission lines are now recognized as one of the most important causes of bird mortality internationally, and transmission lines also cause habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of breeding and roosting sites, displacement and loss of feeding areas when certain bird species avoid areas where power lines occur or are being constructed. These birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which is among the oldest wildlife protection laws we have. This law protects over 1,000 species of birds, including the Sandhill cranes, geese, and ducks we all love to see and hear every spring and fall. The same birds that make the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge famous fly through here and would be adversely impacted. Water quality and aquatic resources will be negatively affected by erosion and possible flash floods. Sensitive avian species, including hawks, falcons, and owls could be affected as well as sensitive reptile and amphibian species.
7) LANDS WITH WILDERNESS CHARACTERISTICS: Nearly all of the land that would be adversely impacted by the proposed project is practically untouched. It's a huge, grand expanse of land with iconic, wild vistas, rich in natural and cultural resources, that would be ruined by these transmission lines that would never go away. Further, the years of construction noise, dangers of "blasting," the traffic, dust etc. are unacceptable.
8) NEGATIVE HEALTH IMPACTS: Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs) adversely affect human health, including increasing the risks of life-threatening illnesses such as leukemia, brain cancer, clinical depression, suicide, and Alzheimer’s disease. Most studies indicate that EMF exposure also adversely impacts birds by generally changing their behavior, reproductive success, growth and development, physiology and endocrinology, immune system function, and oxidative stress under EMF conditions. In particular, epidemiological studies have found a statistical association of a two-fold increase in childhood leukemia. The proposed route goes over a school and near or over many homes in Rio Arriba County. This is not acceptable and these high voltage lines are dangerous.
WE OPPOSE THE VERDE TRANSMISSION LINE PROJECT.
(Formal comments MUST be submitted to the BLM; you may write a comment or copy any part of this petition to email your formal comment to BLM_NM_Verde@blm.gov )