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TRANSMISSION LINES

Human history parallels the history of energy production. From wood to coal to oil and natural gas, people’s use of energy has evolved to support huge advances in agriculture and industry — as well as exponential population growth. And now, under the tremendous pressures of 6.5 billion humans, the world's resources, including fossil fuels, are buckling. We’ve likely already crested peak discovery of world oil and gas reserves, and we’re probably nearing peak production of these traditional sources of energy. In the face of looming catastrophic climate change — itself the product of our fossil fuel dependence — the only commonsense option left is to immediately and drastically reduce our demand for fossil fuel-based energy and transition to renewable, locally generated energy sources. Unfortunately, many of our country’s policy makers refuse to enact legislation to move our country toward that goal.

One arena in which the ongoing struggle over energy is playing out is that surrounding long-distance electric transmission lines such as the Sunrise Powerlink — a transmission line touted by its supporters as a means to access so-called "remote renewable" energy farms in the desert, including wind farms, when in fact, it would also eventually tap into liquefied natural gas terminals in Baja California. Other long-distance transmission lines are being conceptualized for Southern California as well, and while some might access renewable energy sources, they would all augment a fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure that should be a thing of the past, in the process putting an indelible mark on public lands and special places, directly affecting species, and contributing to global warming.

And the federal government has entered the fray. With its designation of the Southwest National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor, the Department of Energy has given project proponents a pair of pocket aces in their game to secure approval for potentially devastating transmission-line projects. And a coal-friendly, Bush-era plan designating 6,000 miles of energy corridors in 11 western states to support dirty energy is still moving forward, despite its clash with local, state, and Obama administration efforts to build a clean energy economy.

The Center is fighting these and other ill-conceived projects and stands ready to engage against other, similarly destructive transmission-line plans in the future.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Florea Marius Catalin