Aug. 27 is the deadline for contesting Idaho Power’s proposed but unneeded power line through Union County and Eastern Oregon. For anyone who believes that Idaho Power’s Boardman to Hemingway Transmission line will provide more benefit than damage — forget it. Presently Idaho Power is polishing up their 700-plus page application for their permit from the Oregon Department of Energy.
However, contrary to their PR about being a down-home honest corporation, their track record of misinformation remains on course. Here are some — just a few of many — items that Idaho Power is trying to slip by and hide unnoticed in their permit application.
The transmission line would run 305 miles through Eastern Oregon, and Idaho Power proposes to weasel out of responsibility for wildfires they start during construction or from downed lines. Local volunteer fire departments will carry the burden of fire containment. In other words, they can start a fire like the one that burned up Paradise and kill 80-some people but won’t be responsible.
Where the power lines cross private lands, access roads used for building and maintaining the power lines may be gated and locked, denying public access. Road building will be allowed within 25 feet of streams, meaning the current laws protecting streams and rivers in Oregon are worthless. We are letting an out-of-state corporation run roughshod over regulations made to protect us and our environment.
ODOE plans to allow Idaho Power’s power line to exceed the World Health Organization’s recommended decibel level and Idaho Power is fudging its numbers, meaning it does not know either because of incompetence or the company does know and is pulling the wool over our ears.
ODOE requires a bond to restore the land in case Idaho Power quits the project or goes bankrupt. ODOE is allowing a bond amount of $1 good for 50 years. What is the purpose of a buck bond if it doesn’t protect the citizens it is there for? Who is ODOE working for?
This is the iceberg’s tip. What other stop-at-nothing tactics Idaho Power has hidden in this application is anyone’s guess. ODOE can’t tell us nor does it appear they plan to. Unfortunately, public input for this near-final round is closed but not for our public representatives.
La Grande-bred Stop B2H is fighting an entire stable of corporate law-trained Goliaths. But where are the rest of our representatives to stop this debacle? Don’t let Idaho Power ruin Eastern Oregon. Government agencies such as ODOE are there to protect the public, not to help out-of-state for-profit corporations invade and erode the standards of our rural endangered lifestyle. It’s way overdue for other representatives to kick in for what they were elected and/or hired to do: Represent the people.
Whit Deschner has lived in Baker County for the last 38 years and is the instigator of The Great Salt Lick, a fundraiser for Parkinson’s research in Baker City for the past 13 years.