Idaho Power, an out-of-state regulated energy monopoly, is attempting to build a 300-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line through five Eastern Oregon counties. It is called the Boardman to Hemingway (B2H) transmission line, an unneeded and destructive project that threatens our land and heritage.

Idaho Power has started taking landowners to circuit court to gain access to their land for preconstruction surveys. This is for precondemnation proceedings (aka eminent domain) — for a transmission line that has not been approved.

The B2H application is still under consideration; more specifically, it is in a contested case that needs to be resolved before final consideration and decisions are made by the Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Facility Siting Council. This is not expected until summer or later this year. There could even be more court challenges before a final decision is made.

Obviously, Idaho Power’s precondemnation process is premature. It ignores the established state process for conducting preconstruction surveys.

The ODOE process allows for “over-the-fence” surveys should the landowner choose not to allow utilities’ agents on their property. The Stop B2H Coalition has communicated with ODOE to learn the relevant regulations regarding access to private property. Idaho Power and its attorneys chose to bypass the established ODOE processes and are taking private landowners to court using methods that are inconsistent with ODOE’s proposed order.

To date, at least 21 landowners have or will be served a petition for precondemnation entry on their property. Eventually, there will be more. How can we sit back and watch this invasion of private property and potential land taking happen to our neighbors and friends?

Idaho Power has the financial resources to bully people, to publish slick materials to convince Oregonians that the B2H is a done deal, to make grandiose promises of tax revenues to counties, to employ attorneys and engineers to twist words and counter everything that people, including our local scientists, raise. They relentlessly “greenwash” the project, which is not green at all.

The B2H application should be suspended until Idaho Power ceases its precondemnation court proceedings and follows the procedures in the proposed order. Condemnation or precondemnation should not occur until a site certificate is issued, which gives permission to build the line. At that point, if that happens, there is an established process for condemnation or eminent domain that Idaho Power will need to follow.

Please speak out. Contact your elected officials and demand that Idaho Power stop bullying and harassing landowners. We sent this letter to elected officials, citing the rules: Idaho Power has a bad reputation. This has been clear since they built the Hells Canyon Dam complex without the promised fish ladders, and it has resurfaced and intensified with the B2H transmission line.

Stop B2H Coalition is made up of passionate people from all walks of life and politics. We have joined forces and commented on every step in the decision making and permitting processes (federal and state) since 2007 as individuals and 2016 as a coalition. We have been steadfast and professional in our well-researched filings against the B2H documenting countless errors and outdated studies in their application and analyses.

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Jim Kreider is the co-chair of the Stop B2H Board of Directors. Kreider is a resident of La Grande.

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