Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mullin Talks About Power Lines, Veterans, Bureaucracy

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (OK-2) left, visits with constituents including Joe Peters of Sallisaw, right, at a Mullin Town Hall meeting Monday at People Inc. in Sallisaw. 

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin met with about 12 constituents at a Town Hall meeting at 8 a.m. Thursday at People Inc. in Sallisaw.

Mullin said he was surprised by the announcement Friday that the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the Clean Line Energy Partners proposed power transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle across the state and Sequoyah County, and Arkansas, to near Memphis, Tenn.

Many landowners and governments oppose the transmission line. Mullin said Clean Line Partners “Assured me over and over that they didn’t want eminent domain. Now they are talking about using it.”

Clean Line officials told KXMX this week that using eminent domain to obtain property for the transmission line would only be as “a last resort.”

“The Cherokee Nation might put up the best fight,” Mullin said. “It runs through their 14-county area and they oppose it.”

Mullin added, “There’s not a whole lot the landowner can do. We are doing research on the project right now.”

Mullin said he knows that some landowners have successfully argued that they have “hardship cases,” and had the line detoured around their property. “Hardship” means, he explained, that the line might make the property useless, would decrease the property’s value, even interfere with access to the home, and other scenarios.

Mullin said he will continue to study Clean Line’s proposal to determine what options may be available to those who oppose the project.

About veterans and Veterans Affairs, Mullin said, “I’m at my wit’s end with the VA. All we can do is work on a case-by-case basis.”

About bureaucracy, Mullin said not much could be done. Joe Peters of Sallisaw questioned how a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., could make a decision on the power transmission line that impacts so many people.

He said government is an “out-of-control bureaucracy.”

Mullin said, “Because we ask for Federal money, it comes back with strings attached. You have to wean people off that money. In a way it’s our fault we establish them (government agencies) and don’t hold them accountable.”

Mullin said anyone with issues they would like to discuss with him may contact his office at 202-225-2701.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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