Power line will scar NEPA's landscape
PPL has carved a long, ugly gash out of the formerly green ridgetops that bisect the Lackawanna and Susquehanna valleys, to make way for the massive power line it soon will dump on the landscape and people of Northeast Pennsylvania.
But PPL is not alone in this enterprise. That 325-foot-wide, dark brown scar across the ridgeline is a physical manifestation of Northeast Pennsylvania's long path of least resistance.
As workers on the mountaintops install the 175-foot towers for the power line over the next year or so, they often will have a fine view of the deep environmental scars left on Northeast Pennsylvania by earlier industries, from orange-tinted mine drainage into the lower Lackawanna River, to culm piles, to open fields where vegetation cannot gain a foothold 70 years after the closing of nearby mines, to sprawling garbage dumps that accommodate refuse from afar more so than near.
Despite the obvious negative impact that the 101-mile power line will have across the breadth of the entire region, the vast majority of elected and appointed public officials simply rolled over and said not a word in opposition.
They were joined by the state Public Utility Commission, which approved the longest and most disruptive of the routes examined by PPL rather than insisting on a more direct route.
More alarmingly, the National Park Service also caved in after the Obama administration "fast-tracked" the project, supposedly in the name of job creation. It will allow the line to cross the Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, even though part of the agency's mission is to protect such resources from exactly the sort of intrusion inherent in the power line.
The line's location is not just a major industry doing what it chooses to the landscape of Northeast Pennsylvania, it's the result of neglectful governance.
Most local officials said nothing about the project even though it will have an exponential impact on northeast Pa. In one spot, PPL will not even remove a smaller, existing power line. Instead, the new line will soar above the existing one.
Such governmental negligence might be justifiable if Northeast Pennsylvania were to realize some benefit from the project. But the power line is for the benefit primarily of central New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area.
There were many alternatives by which those regions could have received the power without placing this monstrosity on the back of Northeast Pennsylvania.