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This electric transmission line story is heating up. More signs of protest among ranchers. (See story here.) And more opposition from Eastern states to federal support for more transmission line construction.

The New York Times reports that the climate change bill debate now before Congress is exposing a regional rift. Those from the Midwest and Great Plains want encouragement from the federal government for construction of new transmission lines that would connect new wind farms with the Eastern cities. Those in the East would rather have alternative energy projects closer to home — and they don’t want to be stuck paying the billions of dollars it will cost to build the new lines. “An influential coalition of East Coast governors and power companies fears that building wind and solar sites in the Midwest would cause their region to miss out on jobs and other economic benefits,” writes Matthew Wald. “The coalition is therefore trying to block a mandate for transcontinental lines.”

So far, so good for the East. The energy bill that came out of the House didn’t have provisions that would allow the federal government to override state decisions on transmission line siting. (West of the Rockies, the House would let the Feds intervene.) Also, Eastern governors argue that a bulked-up grid will actually increase the use of coal-fired plants in the Midwest. Now, power from those plants is blocked by overloaded transmission lines. New lines would have the odd consequence of increasing both renewable power and electricity from coal, Wald explains.

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