Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3), Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1), Congressman French Hill (AR-2), Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-4), and Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-1) released the following statements after the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Land (APPROVAL) Act (H.R. 3062) today passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources by a vote of 19-11.
“The success of the APPROVAL Act in committee today is yet another positive step toward passage in a long and hard-fought battle to allow states to retain the historic precedent of authority for interstate transmission projects. The Administration has consistently demonstrated a lack of acknowledgment of this right through three years of conversations with our delegation leading us to this legislative fix, and I commend my colleagues for recognizing the need to reverse this all-too-common trend of ceding power to the federal government through their overwhelming support for my legislation. I will continue to work to prevent DOE from solidifying this unprecedented process for transmission infrastructure approval,” said Congressman Womack, lead sponsor of H.R. 3062.
“State officials and residents should be able to decide what’s best for Arkansas, and the APPROVAL Act works to ensure that Arkansas’s decision concerning this transmission line is final and respected,” said Congressman Crawford.
“Local review and input are beneficial to the assessment of large, complex projects such as this proposal. I am grateful for the leadership of Congressman Womack and Senators Boozman and Cotton on this important issue for Arkansas,” said Congressman Hill.
“I was pleased to see the APPROVAL Act reported favorably by the House Natural Resources Committee today, and I thank Chairman Bishop for his leadership. I also thank Congressman Womack for introducing this legislation and the members of the Arkansas delegation who have stood with the citizens who elected us. The right to private property is fundamental to a free society. Unfortunately, the federal government continues to show little respect for this important personal liberty. This bill provides flexibility and empowers our states by ensuring they have the final say on eminent domain. In Arkansas, it would stop an unprecedented use of federal authority to give privately-held land to an out-of-state, private corporation. I hope to see the APPROVAL Act move through the House of Representatives in a timely manner,” said Congressman Westerman, member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“This bill is crucial to protecting private property rights of all Arkansans. It elevates state voices, allowing those impacted to have a say in proposed interstate transmission projects. I thank the entire Arkansas Congressional Delegation for this commonsense legislation to ensure the protection of private property rights,” said Chairman Bishop of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The APPROVAL Act, introduced by Congressman Womack with the support of the entire Arkansas delegation in July 2015, directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to obtain approval from a governor and state public service commission, prior to approval of any Section 1222 transmission project and subsequent use of federal eminent domain, as well as the approval of any tribal government for affected lands. The APPROVAL Act creates additional protections for states, as well as individuals, by requiring these projects – if approved – to be placed on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers whenever possible. The Senate companion bill, S. 485, was introduced by Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) in February 2015.
The DOE conditionally approved the first application for Section 1222 authority by Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC through the Plains & Eastern project following the end of the second public comment period on March 25, 2016. This high voltage direct current (HVDC) electric transmission line, if approved, would cross the entire state of Arkansas despite being denied a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Arkansas Public Service Commission.