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Stringing Transmission Lines, Untangling Red Tape

Centralized federal oversight sounds good, but what about squabbles between separate federal agencies?
Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 2001

go to full federal preemption," says Pasternack. "We believe that the states still have processes that can work, and we should allow those processes to work. But, perhaps there should be some backstop in the sense that if those processes are not working in a timely fashion, then you could go to the federal government and have them step in."

Yet Pasternack does acknowledge problems with projects that affect more than a single state.

"The multi-state part of it certainly has caused us some difficulty because, you know, each state wants to wait to see what the other state is going to do," says AEP's Pasternack. "And then there are issues around the question of, 'Well, gee, the route is impacting my state more than it's impacting the other state. There ought to be a different route that impacts my state less ... .'"

And centralized federal control can mask problems that arise when multiple federal agencies must approve a project. AEP's project, for example, involves the US Forest Service, Park Service, and Army Corps of Engineers.

"One problem we run into," says Pasternack, "is the US Forest Service, which is the lead agency for this particular line. While they were waiting for the states to determine need, they weren't willing to do a lot of work on the environmental side-which is, I guess, understandable [because] when they get into route specific work, it becomes wasted if the state decides on a different route. So you've got that issue."

And given that AEP is working with several federal agencies on the project, it's not surprising that the company sees so many sides to the issue.

"We think there needs to be some streamlining within the federal process itself," adds Pasternack. "We could still have the separate state process with the federal [government] as a backstop, but where you need federal permits, the federal agencies really have to get their act together, too."

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