Bill seeks to facilitate power line route

CARSON CITY — A Nye County assemblyman introduced a bill Thursday that would allow the state to use the power of eminent domain to take federally controlled property for a power line right of way.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said a new power line will be needed to carry 500 megawatts of power generated by renewable energy in his rural community to cities where it can be used.

With 98 percent of lands in some rural Nevada counties controlled by the federal government, Goedhart said the state, local governments and power companies need a quick and dependable way to put in power lines and develop renewable energy projects.

“I think this sends a strong message to the federal government that business as usual will not work,” he said. “This isn’t saying we are going to annex the whole state.”

In Nevada, 87 percent of all land is under federal control. Goedhart said eminent domain would be used for special or green energy projects and transmission lines to bring power to populated areas.

Goedhart wants to avoid a situation like the one that affected the Valley Electric Association co-op. It took 11 years to get a federal permit to build a transmission line to carry power to Pahrump, he said.

Utah last year passed a law giving it imminent domain authority over federal land. A similar bill was introduced Wednesday in Montana. However, Goedhart said he is not aware of a court case upholding a state’s right to use eminent domain authority over federal lands.

Following passage of the eminent domain law in Utah last year, several legal scholars told Utah newspapers and the national press that law had no chance of being upheld in court because of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which says laws passed by Congress and Indian treaties shall be the “supreme law of the land.”

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