FINAL FEDERAL EIS
To prove that we are not giving up, we now have a task before us: Comments are being solicited from now through Monday, November 25, 2019 for the final federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Commenting on this EIS is extremely important because it provides the last opportunity for the public to get feedback into the Federal process. Lots of public comments pointing out serious deficiencies in the final EIS can be used to our advantage in the media, to help build support from public officials, and to provide the basis for an appeal in the Federal courts should one become necessary. Among all the important environmental factors described in the EIS, a very important part concerns the crossing of the Mississippi River through the Upper Mississippi Fish and Wildife Refuge.[Just to remind everyone, the state EIS, written by the PSC and DNR, which included our participation for several stages, is complete. However, the federal EIS (written for RUS, Rural Utilities Service of USDA) is not yet complete. You might remember there were scoping meetings in the Fall of 2016, written comments for the draft EIS, and public meetings in March 2019. This is our chance to comment on the final report.]
How do you comment?
The final federal EIS is over 600 pages long and separated into four volumes. (See links below.) Reading it is much too daunting for the average individual who has a life beyond CHC. We therefore have some recommendations that we hope will make commenting easier for you.
If you commented previously:
Do NOT restate your previous comment. It has become part of the official federal record. (That is different from the state EIS. Because draft comments for that particular EIS would not be included in the final PSC report, we needed to re-submit our comments.)
If you never commented – OR – you did comment but have other concerns:
Unlike the state EIS for the PSC, there is no limit to the number of your comments — except please do not duplicate a previous comment. Suggestions for options you can try are:
- Go directly to the section regarding an issue that concerns you. Find the topic in the Table of Contents and click on it.
- For specific information about the Mississippi River Crossing, go to Volume 2 page 472 and Volume 4, Appendix J
- To read about changes made between the draft EIS and the final EIS go to Volume 1, pages 2-6.
Summary of Volumes, Links, and Public Library Option:
When you click on these links, you should see an option to receive a pdf. Unfortunately the pdf’s are too large to send in DD’s Google Group email. If you prefer to read a printed copy, contact your local library. Many have one copy, which may or may not be available for check out.
Volume 1, Chapters 1-2
- Changes Between Draft and FinalEIS’s, pages 2-6
- Executive Summary
- Project Purpose and Need
- Proposed Project and Alternatives
Volume 2, Chapter 3
- Cultural & Historic
- Land Use
- Public Health
- Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
Volume 3, Chapters 4-9
- Cumulative Impacts and Other Required Considerations
- Coordination and Consultation
- List of Preparers
- Literature Cited
- Distribution List
Volume 4 Appendices (no Table of Contents)
Where to send comments:
THANK YOU Iowa County Board of Supervisor
Voted to Appeal the CHC PSC Decision
And thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen.
Final CHC Route
The link below will take you to a map of the final CHC route (in blue). “+” allows you to zoom in to see the exact route in detail.
PSC Commissioners Give Final Approval to CHC
Much to our dismay, on Thursday, September 26th, all three Public Service commissioners gave their final approval to Cardinal-Hickory Creek. Realistically speaking, we knew a vote to deny was unlikely. Given the unprecedented and convincing opposition, however, we had hoped for a split vote.
Next Step: An Appeal
This setback does not mean our fight has ended. Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC), together with Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, will appeal the decision. They will be represented by attorney Howard Learner, Executive Director of Environmental Law and Policy Center. He and his staff represented them during the PSC proceedings and will continue to do so throughout the appeal process. All of their work has been, and will continue to be, pro bono. We are sincerely grateful.
To familiarize yourself with Howard Learner, watch this interview on Wisconsin Public Television’s “Here and Now.” Watch Here
Since Driftless Defenders began three years ago we have been fortunate to have had a close working relationship with Driftless Area Land Conservancy. We also benefitted from their relationship with Environmental Law and Policy Center. As a new grassroots organization we would not have been as effective in this fight without their combined guidance.
It is essential that we continue to support them as the appeal process moves forward. Despite the pro bono work of ELPC, DALC needs to complete payment of significant expenses for the expert witnesses who gave testimony before the PSC. Going forward there will be added expenses for the appeal process. If you are able, please help us stop CHC and acknowledge DALC’s contribution to the cause by making a tax-deductible donation to cover their legal expenses.
Write check to Driftless Area Land Conservancy.
Write “CHC” in the memo field to restrict your donation to the fight
Mail to: Driftless Area Land Conservancy
206 South Iowa St
P.O. Box 323
Dodgeville, WI 53533
SEND ONLINE: Donate Here
Details about the PSC Commissioners’ Approval:
More than 100 people attended the PSC Open Session, spilling out of the hearing room into an overflow room with video. Our understanding was that the commissioners would be having a discussion of a “Decision Matrix,” created by their staff. The meeting began with a short introduction during which the public was praised for their overwhelming input and knowledge about CHC. The record number of intervenors were also thanked. Next, with no discussion of the Matrix, all three commissioners announced their approval of CHC. People were stunned! Many walked out and gathered in the lobby in a state of confusion, where reporters interviewed some of them.
Many attendees remained for four hours to hear the commissioners discuss the Decision Matrix. It defined 33 issues and under each listed opinions and testimonies of all parties. They were upset to realize the commissioners disregarded the testimony by expert witnesses and public intervenors, the bipartisan opposition of legislators and municipalities, and the overwhelming public opinion, along with ignoring their own staff’s recommendations. They abandoned any provisions and protections that would have mitigated the hardship this construction will bring to natural habitats and protected areas, landowner easements, and other reparations.
For a very good report, please listen to Wisconsin Public Radio Morning Show, “Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Approved.” Chris Hubbuch of the Wisconsin State Journal gives an accurate account of the reaction of the crowd and includes a description of the impressive volunteer work that has been done by the opposition. Read More
You can also read Chris Hubbuch’s report in the Wisconsin State Journal, “Regulators approve controversial Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line,” which provides many quotes from both sides of the issue. Read More
Immediately after the decision was announced Democrat legislators Pope, Hesselbein, Considine, and Erpenbach issued a press release stating they were disappointed and surprised by the approval, given the extent of opposition.
Governor Evers’ Announcement and Subsequent Press Conference:
Equally distressing was the timing of two news items the Friday before the Tuesday PSC meeting. With PSC Commission Chair Rebecca Valcq present, Governor Tony Evers once again announced his executive order for Wisconsin to be carbon free by 2050. Read More
Just one hour later RENEW and Clean Grid Alliance held a press conference at the Capitol stating that the only way Evers’ clean energy goals could be met was by building CHC. Read More
The following Tuesday all three commissioners gave as one of their reasons for approval that Cardinal-Hickory Creek was needed in order to achieve the goal of clean energy. Driftless Defenders, other opposition groups, and expert witnesses believe we do not need transmission lines to meet this important goal. The better way to make us carbon free is by using local clean energy alternatives and modern storage technology, rather than building a destructive, unnecessary, outmoded line that will carry a significant amount of fossil fuel generated electricity.
We urge you to make your opinion known to Governor Evers
Governor Tony Evers
115 E State Capitol
Madison WI 53703
We Are Not Giving Up
While the PSC decision was very discouraging, it has been heartening to see that people are still engaged. Members of Driftless Defenders and other opposition groups are making suggestions for how to proceed and offering their help. Our Leadership Team, in coordination with other opposition groups, is discussing ways to channel this energy. If you have comments or ideas to share, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you will continue to support Driftless Defenders in this fight to defeat Cardinal-Hickory Creek.
As Howard Learner reminds us, “We’re in this to win! And we’re only in the third inning.”
Thanks to everyone who attended the PSC Public Hearings. Attendance was excellent! Almost 1,000 attendees at all sessions, and approximately 130 speakers. Administrative Law Judge Newmark described the hearings as an “amazing experience.” He said the testimonies were well-thought out, intelligent, and passionate, and they will definitely benefit the record.
Dodgeville PSC Public Hearing 6/27/19
Here are simulations of what the CHC will look like if it is built.
Simulation of towers along County Road Z, Spring Green
Simulation of towers in residential area in Mt. Horeb