We are deeply concerned that Basin Electric Power Cooperative is proposing to construct new transmission lines and a 12-acre substation along the south face of the Killdeer Mountains. We are asking the Public Service Commission to reject this location for the following reasons:
-- The Killdeer Mountains are important to all North Dakotans for historic, archaeological, environmental, cultural and recreational reasons.
-- The mountains are one of 40 sites recently identified by Gov Jack Dalrymple and the Industrial Commission as deserving special protection.
-- The mountains hold deep significance for the Mandan, Hidatsa, Lakota, Dakota and other local tribes.
-- The proposed transmission line would negatively impact the view and experience of the Killdeer Mountains from surrounding highways, one of which is a North Dakota Scenic Byway.
-- The proposed line would pass within the boundaries of the historic Killdeer Mountain Battlefield as identified by the National Park Service. The substation and part of the transmission line would be in the core battlefield area.
-- Basin Electric’s archaeological finding of “no significant cultural sites” was based on the state Historic Preservation Office records for the battlefield boundaries, which are currently being updated and amended.
-- Funding has recently been approved for a major two-year study of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield area. North Dakotans deserve to know the outcomes of this study before a decision is made that impacts the area.
-- Basin Electric now wants approval of a second transmission line to meet the needs of the oil and gas industry, and that second line is the alternative listed in its original proposal. This means its proposal no longer includes the “range of reasonable alternatives” required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
-- In addition, the entire environmental impact statement required by NEPA is still in draft stage and should be completed before a final decision is made.
For these reasons, we are asking the PSC to reject the present proposal. We invite anyone else who is concerned about this to voice their concerns at the Public Service Commission hearing at Killdeer City Hall today at 9:30 a.m. MDT, or write directly to the Public Service Commission.
(Rob Sand and Lori Jepson are coordinators for the Killdeer Mountain Alliance.)