Park Service Finally Posts Its EIS Plans

The National Park Service has finally updated its planning page to include the PATH project.  Here is a link to their PATH pageHere is a link to download their PATH newsletter.

It looks like the Park Service has set things up exactly the way the power companies want it.  The newsletter focuses narrowly on federal land impacts and says nothing about the broad issues mentioned in the original scoping document that was used to solicit bids from consultants for the project.

Here is a link to the original project outline in the bidding solicitation.  Compare it with the new newsletter.  It looks like a different project.

The newsletter does provide information about how and when to submit comments.  If you can’t make it to one of the public scoping meetings, be sure to file a comment by the August 5, 2010 deadline.

The public meetings will be open houses from 4 pm to 8 pm.  You can arrive any time in that period.  You can submit comments at the public meeting.  The NPS will have a court reporter there to take down your spoken testimony.  You can also bring written testimony to submit.

It is clear that the NPS wants to keep the scope of the EIS as narrow as possible.  We need to make them aware of the larger issues and impacts of the PATH line, many of which impact federal land, but many of which affect everyone in our region.

Keep in mind that the first round of meetings in July are not general comment meetings.  In NPS jargon, they are called “scoping” meetings, which means that they are specifically about the scope of the EIS process.  The scope includes the issues that should be considered, whether the study should consider entire length of PATH or just federal lands, and broader issues that will impact not only the federal lands that PATH crosses, but other national parks and lands.

For instance, forests in the Shenandoah National Park has been devastated by acid rain from sulfur emissions from AEP’s and Allegheny’s Ohio River power plants.  Testimony at the East Virginia SCC last fall clearly indicated that if PATH is built, more coal will be burned in those plants, which will accelerate that dramatic damage to trees in parks east of West Virginia.  Despite the fact that the original bidding document clearly indicated that these kinds of impacts would be included in the PATH EIS study, these issues do not appear in the new newsletter.

AEP and Allegheny certainly won’t be pushing for this broader scope for the EIS study.  We will have to do it.

AEP and Allegheny have had private monthly meetings with USFS and NPS officials for almost a year now.  This is the first time we “little people” have been let into this cozy arrangement.  We need to make our voices heard.

Here is the information on the scoping meetings from the NPS newsletter:

Because of your interest in your national parks and national forest, we are requesting your input in developing the environmental impact statement for the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) Right-of-Way Applications. We encourage you to attend one of these public scoping meetings and to stay involved in the project as it progresses.

Dates and Locations of Public Scoping Meetings

July 19, 2010
4:00–8:00 p.m.
Quality Inn Conference Center
4328 William L. Wilson Freeway
(US 340)
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

July 20, 2010
4:00–8:00 p.m.
Loudoun Valley High School
340 North Maple Avenue
Purcellville, VA 20132

July 21, 2010
4:00–8:00 p.m.
Tuscarora High School
5312 Ballenger Creek Pike
Frederick, MD 21703

July 22, 2010
4:00–8:00 p.m.
Tucker County High School
US 219, between Parsons and
Davis, WV 26269

Additional public meetings will be held in fall 2010 to review and ask for public comments on the range of reasonable alternatives identified for evaluation in the environmental impact statement, and in summer 2011 to hear public comments on the draft environmental impact statement.