As reported on Fox News, the Federal government is attempting to seize control over power line projects, usually reserved for utility companies working with state and local officials.
The Obama administration is looking to consolidate control over the nation's power highway, pushing a proposal that would put one federal agency in the driver's seat when it comes to reviewing and approving power-line projects across the country.
The proposal has triggered a outcry of complaints, pitting the federal government against concerned citizens and local lawmakers.
The states, which along with local governments have long had authority over whether and where power lines get built, derided the plan as a move that would make it harder for local residents to weigh in.
"It turns the whole process on its head," said Robert Thormeyer, spokesman with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. He said the federal government would be "more inclined to build" than the states, if for no other reason than they probably wouldn't have as much interaction with citizens. A bureaucrat in Washington might not hear the not-in-my-backyard pleas as frequently as a bureaucrat in, say, Boise.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who helped write a 2005 law that initially expanded federal power over power lines, complained about the plan in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said it appears the commission is trying to "rewrite" the language in the law. He said that's a decision for Congress, not the commission, to make.
The move, he wrote, "would pave the way for the commission to use the newly consolidated powers in ways never intended by Congress."
Under the law, the Department of Energy was tasked with studying where transmission lines were needed most. Then the FERC was given the power to grant construction permits in those areas under certain circumstances, including if a state withheld approval for more than a year.
Successful court challenges, though, have since blocked the federal government from exercising that authority.
Yet another law that needs repeal!