GILLETTE — The federal government's proposed routes for new electricity transmission lines and pipelines for natural gas, oil and hydrogen would follow the Interstate 80 corridor and a north-south line through the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming.
So far, the proposed Wyoming routes have not raised any protests.
"It appears the majority of the designated corridor generally follows Interstate 80, and I think that's appropriate because it's obviously a major corridor already," said Bruce Pendery, director of public lands for the Wyoming Outdoor Council.
The group had submitted comments advising against designating a corridor through the South Pass area in western Wyoming. Pendery said he was pleased that the preliminary routes do not go through South Pass.
"These things (energy corridors) do have very substantial environmental impacts, not the least of which is the aesthetic appeal of some of these landscapes," Pendery said. "We know that federal lands are going to be part of the makeup of this, so we won't say, 'No corridors on federal lands.' But perhaps we may comment on specific pieces of federal lands at a closer look."
Tamara Gertsch, project leader for the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management, said it's too early to know how many acres of public lands in Wyoming may be included in the energy corridors.
"We are looking at where we have transmission today, established corridors on the ground. The desire would be to utilize those to the greatest extent possible," Gertsch said.
The preliminary mapping also appears acceptable to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, which aims to help move Wyoming-produced power to consumer markets.
"In general, they've done a very good job of identifying corridors in Wyoming to get our product out to market," said Steve Waddington, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority.
Waddington said there are three main transmission routes from southwest Wyoming to markets in Utah, and one known as the Flaming Gorge route was not identified in the federal corridor map.
Waddington said he expects the state will ask the Department of Energy, which is leading the energy corridor project, to include the Flaming Gorge route, which already includes a power line.
Federal agencies including the Forest Service, the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management last week released a map of the proposed Western energy corridors across Wyoming and 10 other states in the West.
The proposed routes are preliminary; a draft environmental impact statement on the corridors is due out later this year.