Ten months ago Don Rutz, Dale Brandenburger and I wrote letters to the News warning of a move by the Kimble County Commissioners Court and ClearView Alliance, a Junction based activist group, to have a massive electrical line planned for their county moved to Mason instead. By extensive lobbying of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and other state officials they succeeded in having the study area for the Lower Coloraco River Authority CREZ line expanded to include Mason County and had the study period extended to June, 2010.
ClearView Alliance spent up to $70,000 with the lobbyist law firm Clark, Thomas and Winters. They can claim they did not engage in lobbying because lobbying a regulatory agency is not defined as lobbying in the rules governing tax exempt corporations. Our State Representative, Harvey Hilderbran, also lobbied the Texas PUC to consider a line route along Hwy 277 in Sutton County and IH-10 through Kimble and Kerr. They succeeded. Now we are facing a decision in mid-July that may or may not determine the final route of the 345,000 volt double line.
WE IN MASON COUNTY ARE NOW IN MORE DANGER OF GETTING THE POWER LINE THAN EVER BEFORE.
Residents of Kerr County have begun to organize strongly against the IH-10 route through Kerrville. The Kerr County Commissioners Court this month passed a resolution opposing a line through their county and endorsed the route through Mason County instead. Our state representative, Harvey Hilderbran, sent a letter to the Kerr Commissioners specifically disavowing the 277/IH-10 idea. Now he says it’s neither a good idea nor even his idea at all.
The Texas Hill Country Heritage Association, formed by residents and friends of Mason County to fight the power line, has relied heavily on the advice and guidance of American Stewards of Liberty, an idealistic private property rights advocacy group based in Taylor, Texas. Dan and Margaret Byfield of that organization helped form the Mason Sub-Regional Planning Commission and have participated in most public meetings of the panel. They have a long history of adamant principled opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and they are demanding these agencies to force the LCRA to complete a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement for the CREZ line. They believe that having to complete a time consuming Environmental Impact Statement can convince LCRA to abandon the project. The THCHA has repaid the American Stewards of Liberty for their guidance with generous financial contributions.
Up until now neither the Heritage Association nor the MSRP Commission has engaged licensed attorneys with experience in working with the Public Utility Commission. After LCRA proposes a route to the PUC next month, the PUC will then have several months to make their decision. Affected parties who choose to be heard can file as "intervenors" and be present or represented at meetings affecting the route choice. The Texas Hill Country Heritage Association is now helping to raise money to hire experienced attorneys to represent Mason County landowners and other interested parties in the upcoming hearings. Even if LCRA chooses a route through Kimble or Kerr Counties, the PUC can still decide to run the line through Mason instead. It is imperative that we be represented. I urge everyone concerned about the power line threat to join this action. This money will not go into the general account of the THCHA but will only be used for legal representation and expenses. Please contact them at 325-347-9400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.