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Title: Electricity Transmission, Pipelines, and National Trails. An Analysis of Current and Potential Intersections on Federal Lands in the Eastern United States, Alaska, and Hawaii

As has been noted in many reports and publications, acquiring new or expanded rights-of-way for transmission is a challenging process, because numerous land use and land ownership constraints must be overcome to develop pathways suitable for energy transmission infrastructure. In the eastern U.S., more than twenty federally protected national trails (some of which are thousands of miles long, and cross many states) pose a potential obstacle to the development of new or expanded electricity transmission capacity. However, the scope of this potential problem is not well-documented, and there is no baseline information available that could allow all stakeholders to study routing scenarios that could mitigate impacts on national trails. This report, Electricity Transmission, Pipelines, and National Trails: An Analysis of Current and Potential Intersections on Federal Lands in the Eastern United States, was prepared by the Environmental Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne). Argonne was tasked by DOE to analyze the “footprint” of the current network of National Historic and Scenic Trails and the electricity transmission system in the 37 eastern contiguous states, Alaska, and Hawaii; assess the extent to which national trails are affected by electrical transmission; and investigate the extent to which national trails and other sensitive land use types may be affected in the near future by planned transmission lines. more » Pipelines are secondary to transmission lines for analysis, but are also within the analysis scope in connection with the overall directives of Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and because of the potential for electrical transmission lines being collocated with pipelines. Based on Platts electrical transmission line data, a total of 101 existing intersections with national trails on federal land were found, and 20 proposed intersections. Transmission lines and pipelines are proposed in Alaska; however there are no locations that intersect national trails. Source data did not indicate any planned transmission lines or pipelines in Hawaii. A map atlas provides more detailed mapping of the topics investigated in this study, and the accompanying GIS database provides the baseline information for further investigating locations of interest. In many cases the locations of proposed transmission lines are not accurately mapped (or a specific route may not yet be determined), and accordingly the specific crossing locations are speculative. However since both national trails and electrical transmission lines are long linear systems, the characteristics of the crossings reported in this study are expected to be similar to both observed characteristics of the existing infrastructure provided in this report, and of the new infrastructure if these proposed projects are built. More focused study of these siting challenges is expected to mitigate some of potential impacts by choosing routes that minimize or eliminate them. The current study primarily addresses a set of screening-level characterizations that provide insights into how the National Trail System may influence the siting of energy transport facilities in the states identified under Section 368(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. As such, it initializes gathering and beginning analysis of the primary environmental and energy data, and maps the contextual relationships between an important national environmental asset and how this asset intersects with energy planning activities. Thus the current study sets the stage for more in-depth analyses and data development activities that begin to solve key transmission siting constraints. Our recommendations for future work incorporate two major areas: (1) database development and analytics and (2) modeling and scenario analysis for energy planning. These recommendations provide a path forward to address key issues originally developed under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that are now being carried forward under the President’s Climate Action Plan. « less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE)
Country of Publication:
United States