McDonnell says feds overlooking state input

John O'Brien Apr. 27, 2007, 2:00pm


RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell said Thursday that he is troubled by the U.S. Department of Energy's recent announcement that will site electronic transmission lines in parts of Northern Virginia.

"Today's announcement by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman is of great concern," McDonnell said. "I recognize the need for ensuring sufficient electric transmission infrastructure on the East Coast. However, the federal government must balance its desire for national solutions against the need fo states to play the central role in siting electric transmission lines."

The Department of Energy issued two draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designations. The proposed Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia, and all of New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The proposed Southwest Area National Corridor includes counties in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Bodman said the plans are crucial to the future of energy in the country.

"These draft designations set us on the path to modernize our constrained and congested electric power infrastructure. They are a crucial step toward realizing President Bush's goal of a modern, more efficient electric power delivery system," Bodman said.

McDonnell asked Bodman in November to consider more state and citizen input in the designation of the sites. He said that while the proposals do reflect some of that input, "that concession is significantly weakened by the subsequent declaration of intention to move ahead with designations despite the content of such input."

McDonnell added, "The principles of federalism demand respect for state and local interests. I continue to have serious concerns about the actions of the Department of Energy. There must be a greater role for both the states and their citizens in decisions involving electric transmission siting."

As Attorney General, McDonnell represents Virginia consumers in utility matters and also serves as counsel to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which, he says, holds over 70,000 acres of open-space easements in the area that would possibly be impacted by the energy transmission corridor.

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