Conservation groups ask to keep transmission lines off federal lands



GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Conservation groups have asked federal departments to keep transmission lines off federal lands.

The groups want the U.S. Department of Interior to revoke approval for the lines to cross federal land from a wind energy project on Steens Mountain.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association and Audubon Society of Portland filed the petition Thursday, saying Columbia Energy Partners LLC has had some setbacks that make the future of the Echanis wind farm uncertain.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has cancelled authority to start work on the transmission lines due to a lawsuit by conservation groups challenging approval of the project, and the company has withdrawn its application to connect to the grid. The turbines would be on private land.

Columbia Energy Partners President Chris Crowley says he can’t comment due to pending litigation.