Many believe the scoping meetings being held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding LCRA’s proposed CREZ transmission lines are just about endangered species.
Nothing could be further from the truth. They are about much more and every citizen needs to know their input is vital if we’re going to stop the line through Mason County.
Endangered species is an important argument we’re using to force the federal government to perform their duty, but it is not the only one. The Mason Sub-Regional Planning Commission (MSRPC) working with the Texas Hill Country Heritage Association (THCHA) has done yeoman’s work at raising over 10 specific issues, including endangered species, which trigger another very important federal law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Service must comply with NEPA, not just the ESA.
NEPA is triggered if endangered species are involved, and once this happens, the Service must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that studies the significant impact on "other resources such as vegetation, wetlands, wildlife, geology and soils, air quality, water resources, water quality, cultural resources (such as Indian burial sites and historic landmarks), land use, recreation, water use, local economy, climate change, and environmental justice."
These words came directly out of FWS’s own notice for the scoping meetings, which is what got lost by most of the public regarding what will be discussed at these meetings.
Another trigger for NEPA is whether a project is "controversial." As a community, we’ve proven LCRA’s proposed transmission line is extremely controversial by forming the Texas Hill Country Heritage Association (THCHA), now over 500 members strong, and our city and county have formed a sub-regional planning commission specifically to fight LCRA’s proposal.
But, as great as those two things are, we must now show up in person at these scoping meetings to prove on record that LCRA’s proposal for Mason County is not only controversial, but will have lasting and devastating effects on our local economy, land use, culture, historic sites, water, rivers and streams, recreation industry (hunting), geologic formations, wildlife, and vegetation.
The Judge and Mayor will lead the comments at the scoping meeting in Junction on April 22, 2010. We will make sure the same points raised through coordination by the MSRPC are also presented as formal comments to the Service, but we need as many as possible to also participate in this meeting.
You can provide written or public comments. You will probably only have a few minutes to make your presentation, but it can be as simple as: "I oppose LCRA’s transmission line through Mason County because (and add whatever you want, but try to make it about the issues listed above). That way, we’ll build a record using the federal law to our advantage.
We need to show up in mass to prove how controversial LCRA’s proposed 345Kv double transmission line is, but we also need to show that we know the law and we want them to abide by it and stop the line in Mason County. Go to www.thcha.org for more information on the issues or call 347-0038 or 347-9400.