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Area power needs could trump view of battlefield

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  • Tom Shay
    From today s HAGERSTOWN HERALD-MAIL: SHARPSBURG - Antietam National Battlefield lies in a corridor where power lines could be raised to satisfy the mounting
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 10, 2007
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      From today's HAGERSTOWN HERALD-MAIL:

      SHARPSBURG - Antietam National Battlefield lies in a corridor where power lines could be raised to satisfy the mounting electricity needs associated with Western Maryland's population boom.


      Julie Ruggiero, a U.S. Department of energy spokeswoman, said the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor surrounding Antietam was just one area the federal government recently identified as a problem region. She said extending power lines across the battlefield - where 23,110 soldiers were killed, wounded or listed as missing during the Civil War - was far from a sure thing.

      "The goal isn't to get a line through (Antietam National Battlefield)," said Ruggiero, adding that state and National Park Service lands cannot be seized without permission.


      Lee Dickinson, special park uses program manager for the National Park Service, said utility companies have to get a permit from the National Park Service before they can run power lines through a national park. "Them coming to us and saying, 'We're coming through with a power line' is not automatic," she said.


      National Park Service officials would consider a request to run the lines through the battlefield, but she said she doubted they would approve it. As an alternative, the power lines could be constructed on private property around the battlefield, she said.


      If that happens, Sharpsburg Councilman Russell Weaver said the lines would create an eyesore. He said, to his knowledge, the federal government never approached town leaders to discuss the power lines. "It's really shocking news ... We've spent years and years and years preserving Antietam," he said. Weaver suggested it might take political pressure from federal legislators to keep the power lines away from the battlefield.


      U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin's office said he would continue to review the issue "as the process moves forward," while the office of his fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, did not return telephone messages.


      Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, said the congressman would try to come up with a compromise that would provide electricity and preserve the battlefield. "He wants to facilitate both goals," Wright said.

      Posted by: Tom Shay

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Joseph Pierro
      Thanks for sharing that, Tom. As someone who lives outside of the Sharpsburg s media footprint, I don t think I would have seen this otherwise. Miss
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 10, 2007
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        Thanks for sharing that, Tom. As someone who lives outside of the Sharpsburg's media footprint, I don't think I would have seen this otherwise.

        Miss Dickinson's comment that they can't just "run power lines" through the battlefield is technically correct, but not necessarily relevant. Which is to say, the fact that prior authorization is necessary does not necessarily preclude companies from doing it anyway. (Many of you will recall a similar incident at Harper's Ferry recently, where a private company just went onto park land with a backhoe and laid their cables without bothering to ask. NPS complained afterward, but it was a fait accompli.)

        I must confess, though, that I don't understand the "either/or" suggested by the story. The article suggests that the only two options are to run lines through the battlefield or to re-direct them on private land, which Sharpsburg Councilman Russell Weaver says would be an "eyesore."

        Why?? Why do the lines have to be above ground? Why can't they be run underground on private land?

        But assuming the power company couldn't gain a right of way from private owners and needed to run it through the battlefield, why would it necessarily harm the battlefield? Above ground power lines used to run along the Emmitsburg Road at Gettysburg NMP. They have since been run underground--and in a manner that did not compromise the integrity of the historic space. Why can't they run an underground line beneath (or immediately parallel to) the existing road network at Antietam NB? The lines wouldn't be seen, and it wouldn't require the tearing up of additional sections of the battlefield.

        If anyone in this forum has any technical expertise in such matters, I'd be eager to know why something like that isn't feasible.

        --jake pierro


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Tom Shay <RoteBaron@...>
        To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, August 10, 2007 9:54:58 PM
        Subject: [TalkAntietam] Area power needs could trump view of battlefield

        From today's HAGERSTOWN HERALD-MAIL:

        SHARPSBURG - Antietam National Battlefield lies in a corridor where power lines could be raised to satisfy the mounting electricity needs associated with Western Maryland's population boom.

        Julie Ruggiero, a U.S. Department of energy spokeswoman, said the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor surrounding Antietam was just one area the federal government recently identified as a problem region. She said extending power lines across the battlefield - where 23,110 soldiers were killed, wounded or listed as missing during the Civil War - was far from a sure thing.

        "The goal isn't to get a line through (Antietam National Battlefield) ," said Ruggiero, adding that state and National Park Service lands cannot be seized without permission.

        Lee Dickinson, special park uses program manager for the National Park Service, said utility companies have to get a permit from the National Park Service before they can run power lines through a national park. "Them coming to us and saying, 'We're coming through with a power line' is not automatic," she said.

        National Park Service officials would consider a request to run the lines through the battlefield, but she said she doubted they would approve it. As an alternative, the power lines could be constructed on private property around the battlefield, she said.

        If that happens, Sharpsburg Councilman Russell Weaver said the lines would create an eyesore. He said, to his knowledge, the federal government never approached town leaders to discuss the power lines. "It's really shocking news ... We've spent years and years and years preserving Antietam," he said. Weaver suggested it might take political pressure from federal legislators to keep the power lines away from the battlefield.

        U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin's office said he would continue to review the issue "as the process moves forward," while the office of his fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, did not return telephone messages.

        Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, said the congressman would try to come up with a compromise that would provide electricity and preserve the battlefield. "He wants to facilitate both goals," Wright said.

        Posted by: Tom Shay

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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      • jeffcowvplanning
        If I could offer the perspective of someone who is both a CW enthusiast and preservation group member...as well as someone who works in the field of planning
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 11, 2007
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          If I could offer the perspective of someone who is both a CW
          enthusiast and preservation group member...as well as someone who
          works in the field of planning and development....

          This is the end game of NIMBYism.

          Everybody wants power. Everybody wants commerce, a new house, and
          conveniences. Just...not if they can see it from their front window.

          The utility companies have found local governments and citizen
          activist groups so hostile, that they have gone to the Federal
          Government to get eminent domain authority in order to put in these
          high power lines and power plants. They have been forced to find
          a "path of least resistence" in order to provide our growing economy
          and population with the resources it needs to flourish....around
          massive roadblocks.

          Remember recently the hub bub about the proposed plant at Point of
          Rocks? Everybody wants electricity....just no one wants the power
          plants or power lines.

          So...the idea of creating corridors along places like Antietam, which
          should be non-starters, get traction because the power companies hit
          roadblocks elsewhere. The "Save the Viewshed of Nothing Happened
          Here Mountain" folks have forced the power companies into this kind
          of situation.

          But...in the end...with the Senator and Congressman involved, and all
          the heat that the preservation community can generate to protect such
          an important battlefield, I think things will work out where an
          alignment will be created that will protect the battlefield. This
          kind of stuff is in the very early stages.

          Steve B.
        • Thomas Clemens
          Yes Steve, very much the case. This is not a small electrical line line G-burg s Emmittsburg Road. This is 750MW line, about twice or three times the
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 11, 2007
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            Yes Steve,
            very much the case. This is not a small electrical line line G-burg's Emmittsburg Road. This is 750MW line, about twice or three times the capacity of the lines running up South Mt and through Fox's Gap now. It is running from WV up to NY, and as Steve sugggests, the company has eminent domain and can run it whereever they like. John Howard and the NPS have been monitoring this for several months. We know it will cross C & O Canal someplace, there is no choice. No other sites or routes have been announced. In its entirity, it has the potential to affect a large number of NPS sites, to say nothing of state parks and historic sites.
            While we recognize the necessity of feeding the power grid, we will lobby to minimize the impact on Antietam and the area near it. There is a certain deja vu here, the towers in place now were slated to run through Antietam and were diverted with much effort in the 1970's. This new line will require a cleared 4 or 500 ft right-of-way due to the height of the towers.
            Rest assured SHAF and hte NPS are watching for any news of this issue.
            Tom Clemens

            Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
            Professor of History
            Hagerstown Community College


            >>> "jeffcowvplanning" <jeffcowvplanning@...> 08/11/07 10:52 AM >>>
            If I could offer the perspective of someone who is both a CW
            enthusiast and preservation group member...as well as someone who
            works in the field of planning and development....

            This is the end game of NIMBYism.

            Everybody wants power. Everybody wants commerce, a new house, and
            conveniences. Just...not if they can see it from their front window.

            The utility companies have found local governments and citizen
            activist groups so hostile, that they have gone to the Federal
            Government to get eminent domain authority in order to put in these
            high power lines and power plants. They have been forced to find
            a "path of least resistence" in order to provide our growing economy
            and population with the resources it needs to flourish....around
            massive roadblocks.

            Remember recently the hub bub about the proposed plant at Point of
            Rocks? Everybody wants electricity....just no one wants the power
            plants or power lines.

            So...the idea of creating corridors along places like Antietam, which
            should be non-starters, get traction because the power companies hit
            roadblocks elsewhere. The "Save the Viewshed of Nothing Happened
            Here Mountain" folks have forced the power companies into this kind
            of situation.

            But...in the end...with the Senator and Congressman involved, and all
            the heat that the preservation community can generate to protect such
            an important battlefield, I think things will work out where an
            alignment will be created that will protect the battlefield. This
            kind of stuff is in the very early stages.

            Steve B.
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