Statement of Cinda M. Waldbuesser, National Parks Conservation Association Pennsylvania Program Manager
Statement of Cinda M. Waldbuesser, Pennsylvania Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
U.S. Department of Energy, Pittsburgh, PA, Public Meeting on Draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Designations
June 13, 2007
On behalf of our 335,000 members, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) would like to thank you for the opportunity to comment on the possible siting of new electricity transmission facilities located within National Interest Energy Transmission Corridors (NIETCs) designated by the Department of Energy (DOE). Since 1919, NPCA has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System.
As outlined in the National Electric Transmission Congestion Study, certain regions of the country may need upgraded electricity transmission facilities to relieve electricity congestion. NPCA understands that the DOE faces a complex challenge in updating our nation’s electrical grid system and that new electricity transmission facilities may be needed.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was not intended to alter existing law with respect to energy-related rights-of-way crossing National Park Service lands, which can only occur with explicit congressional approval. Americans take great pride in the remarkable wildlife, scenic beauty, historical character, and inspiring cultural resources found in our national parks. Siting electricity transmission facilities through national parks or within their scenic viewsheds would be unnecessary and ill-advised. Simply stated, America’s national parks are not blank spots on a map in which to site new electricity corridors.
Unfortunately, several companies have proposed electricity corridors that would directly damage national parks and their scenic views. For example, the New York Regional Interconnect would pass through 73 miles of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and impair the very resources the park was established to protect. Additionally, the construction of new electricity corridors within the scenic viewsheds of Gettysburg National Military Park, Antietam National Battlefield, Monocacy National Battlefield, Shenandoah National Park, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and other national parks could seriously damage park resources, the experience of park visitors, and the tourism-based economies of nearby communities.
In addition, dozens of national park units within the Draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor are located in areas with unhealthy air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Building what are essentially enormous extension cords to some of the country’s dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the Midwest would add to the pollution burden downwind in these parks and communities.
Due to the Park Service’s mandate to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein…" national parks and other protected lands should be considered off-limits and not included within the geographic boundaries of NIETCs. In addition, the Department of Energy must do everything it can to reduce electricity demand through subsidizing efficiency, conservation, and demand-side electricity planning as smarter, less-polluting and more affordable strategies for meeting some of the country’s need for electricity.
Thank you for this opportunity to outline our concerns regarding this important issue.