To the Editor:
The Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) project has dropped from public view in Illinois but it isn’t gone. In Iowa RICL is renewing a publicity campaign after 23 representatives published a letter opposing the project. The unprecedented attempt of a private group of investors to get 200 foot wide easements across multiple states is still threatening both states. The last news RICL publicly released in IL was their announcement the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) had ruled granting them public utility status.
This publicity junket of 2014 was a smoke and mirrors attempt to make the public and investors believe all was well and the transmission line had permission to move forward. In reality the ICC ruling didn’t give them rights to use eminent domain to seize land, only easements. All the ICC ruling did was allow Clean Line to continue to attempt to secure voluntary easements in IL. Their land agents had been unsuccessful for years so there was little chance the ruling would help RICL.
The Illinois Land Owners Alliance, Illinois Farm Bureau and a major utility filed appeals in the Appellate Court to contest the ICC not completely denying the speculative, unnecessary land grab. Three Appellate judges the Honorable Wright, Lytton, and Carter heard contesting statements and questioned the ICC and RICL attorney. A decision is pending.
RICL has not only met with opposition from landowners and those concerned with eminent domain and unnecessary transmission building in Illinois, but also from Iowa. The Iowa Utility Board process has held the project accountable and without permission to build in Iowa dealings are on hold in IL. Less than 12% of the impacted Iowan landowners have signed voluntary easement agreements and a far lower percent signed in Illinois. Without the use of eminent domain the project is dead.
In response Clean Line’s strategy has shifted from pushing for individual states’ approval. They appear to be focusing their investor’s resources to Federal Eminent Domain lobbying. Hans Detweiller, who headed the RICL Illinois campaign, has been paid $40,000 monthly as their Washington lobbyist and it’s estimated Clean Line has spent more than $560,000. this year in efforts to push their scheme through federal channels.
Multiple states have ruled the 5 Clean Line proposed projects, including RICL, are not in the best interest of their state and Federal Eminent Domain appears to be Clean Line’s last best hope. Various groups are working together to stop Clean Line but we must continue to contact our representatives and stay vigilant as Clean Line is attempting to usurp state rights with green-washed lobbying. Contact www.BlockRICL.com or The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance if you are approached by RICL representatives or wish further information. Facebook pages posts daily developments.