Missouri Farm Bureau is Against Grain Belt Express

By Jonathan Cooper | jcooper@kq2.com

Published 04/16 2014 04:10PM

Updated 04/17 2014 08:09AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Plans are inching forward for the proposed Grain Belt Express. The project, backed by Clean Line Energy Partners, would transmit low cost energy across the plains.

"We're building a power line that would go from western Kansas where you got a tremendous wind resource and we'll transfer energy from Missouri into Indiana," said Michael Skelly, Clean Line Energy President.

That excitement for the project has been met with frustration. Landowners, like Russ Pisciotta of Caldwell County, are leading the charge against the project and the route's impact on northwest Missouri.

"The more we learned about it the more we found it unnecessary," said Pisciotta.

Pisciotta isn't the only one fighting the proposal.

"They're going to ruin our wildlife," said a landowner in Buchanan County.

"If it was going through the middle of my property, I'd probably have an issue," said another.

Those comments are from other landowners in March. And now the Missouri Farm Bureau is taking an official stand against the project. They're upset about Clean Line Energy building transmission towers on farmer's land.

"When you have those big irrigation rigs going out a big circle in your field, when you have a big pole in the middle of it, it will no longer work," said Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The Missouri Farm Bureau says they would oppose the state using eminent domain to take the land. Clean Line Energy has requested approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission to go forward with the project in the state. If approved the state would give the company eminent domain rights.

"I think it will be very difficult for them to be successful without eminent domain," said Hurst.

Clean Line says they will be working with each landowner that will be affected and are hoping to compensate them appropriately. The company's president Michael Skelly visited St. Joseph on Tuesday to meet with his team.

"We are out there working with landowners explaining to them what the project looks like, what the tower design looks like, kind of getting their micro level input," said Skelly.

Clean Line has already been granted approval in Kansas, but is still seeking it in Missouri and Illinois. The Illinois Farm Bureau also opposes the project.

But as Clean Line Energy says, they believe the benefits to this project outway the cons.

"A project like ours, it's a very substantial investment in the state, more than a half a billion dollars," said Hurst. "It gets taxed every year."

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