The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 26, 2013

Our View: A costly choice in Arkansas

JOPLIN, Mo. — We don’t live there, but we sure love to visit. We’re talking about Northwest Arkansas in all its natural beauty.

We can’t imagine the view there being marred by a 48-mile transmission line that has been proposed by Louisiana-based Southwestern Electric Power Co. Nor can we bear to think of its effect on sites of historic or cultural significance in that neck of the woods.

One of the six possible routes for the line would go by Thorncrown Chapel, listed fourth on the American Institute of Architects’ Top 10 Designs of the 20th Century. The 160-foot-tall towers would violate the Ozark forest.

Another proposed route would run along the southern edge of Pea Ridge National Military Park and cross the White River and the northern edge of Eureka Springs, Ark.

No option sounds good, but we do understand that reliable power supplies are necessary. In fact, the Southwest Power Pool mandated the utility to build a transmission line by June 2016 to improve power reliability.

But at what cost?

John Muir, one of America’s early conservationists and a defender of her forests, said: “The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.”

He could have been talking about this project.

We don’t have an easy answer. Obviously, the easy answer will not be the best answer, and the most palatable way to improve power reliability will likely come at a high price.

The issue has caught the attention of homeowners and the tourism industry. Even the Missouri Department of Conservation is wading in over state lines.

You can be part of the discussion, too.

Public comment sessions are scheduled for July 15-16 at the Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs and July 17-18 at the Embassy Suites in Rogers, Ark.

We urge you to attend and be part of the solution.

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