Parts of a plan for designating thousands of miles of energy corridors in 11 Western states – including Idaho and Washington – will be revamped under a settlement reached by federal land managers, more than a dozen environmental groups, and one Colorado county.
The settlement was filed this week in federal court in San Francisco and must be approved by a judge.
At issue are more than 6,000 miles of corridors for power lines; oil, natural gas and hydrogen pipelines; and other energy distribution systems that were carved out by the Bush administration as part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The corridors were finalized in 2008, and environmentalists sued in 2009 over concerns that more than half of the corridors passed through sensitive areas from Washington south to New Mexico.
The corridors were developed by the Bureau of Land Management and the departments of Energy, Agriculture, Commerce and Defense in an effort to address the West’s growing energy demands. Officials have said the goal was to minimize the disturbance to the landscape and keep transmission lines and pipelines bundled to prevent them from being scattered across the region. The agencies incorporated existing road and utility rights of way into the plan where possible.
The environmental groups identified areas in each of the 11 states where wildlife habitat, historic properties and trails could be affected. (AP)