Bill Seeks to Block Grain Belt Express

Published 05/05 2014 03:43PM

Updated 05/05 2014 10:59PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A Missouri House Committee recently passed a bill that would block the Grain Belt Express from gaining eminent domain status. This comes after Clean Line Energy released its proposed route that would run through eight counties including Buchanan County.

"That specifically limits high-power transmission lines that originate and end in states other than Missouri," stated Jeff Cole, secretary and member of the Missouri Landowners Alliance.

With support growing against the renewable energy project, members of Block Grain Belt Express say they will continue to fight for their land and are confident House Bill 1774 will help do just that.

"There is hope that that bill will be emerged as an amendment to some larger bills that would pass both the House and the Senate," added Cole.

Clean Line Energy's Director of Development, Mark Lawlor, says they plan on moving forward with the project despite the bill. He says they have the support and signatures from 600 Missourians backing their plan.

"The necessary approval is through the Missouri Public Service Commission as opposed to the individual counties. We do work with the counties," added Lawlor.

The battle won't be easy. Block Grain Belt Express now has the support of the Missouri Farm Bureau and United for Missouri.

"We're producing a public need. We produce food and there's no more land being produced and it's very important that we protect the land that we have," stated Jennifer Gatrel with Block Grain Belt Express.

The grassroots group says communicating with Clean Line about its plans has been hard but they're not backing down.

"The company has not at all been willing to bend. They either say it can't be done or say it's too expensive," added Gatrel.

"We remain committed to our goal which is to avoid having to use eminent domain as a utility. Our goal is to find each and every land owner that we can to sign the agreement," Lawlor.

Clean Line Energy says they're open to hearing from landowners and will continue to host public meetings to gain feedback.

Scheduled meetings are as follows:

Tuesday, May 6, American Legion Post 393 from noon until 6:00pm in Gower, Mo.
Wednesday, May 7, Knights of Columbus from noon until 6:00pm in Brunswick, Mo.
Thursday, May 8, Rupe Community Center from noon until 6:00pm in Carrollton, Mo.

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