re: proposed transmission lines Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001: 01-04. , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12..  1999 .
  WI Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
re: hydroelectric power Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03., 04-07, 1999


power lines
Page Contents:

Proposed MN-WI transmission lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Updates: 2001
May - September

May  8 Rally in Duluth, please help. Help stop global climate change / mercury in fish / lands takings / corporate "malling of America" / ... while supporting alternative energies and cleaner air.
May  9 Protesters greet shareholders
  ACTION ALERT: "Property Seizure For Power Lines Considered"
May 17 Judge OKs power line for Mount Graham Observatory
May 20 Wausau transmission line protest Sunday
June 6-9 SOUL in Madison June 7 / Who Owns America? conf. June 6-9
July 21 Power vs. People: How did Wisconsin lose its democracy?
Aug. 18 Residents glad power line path rejected
Sept. 6 Group sues to block power line project. Creation of independent company to operate electric grid violates state constitution, lawsuit says


The June 25, 2001, NewsCenter 13 (Eau Claire) Poll Question at : "Governor Scott McCallum has unveiled an energy package that among other things calls for building a transmission line for out-of-state power. The proposed 250 mile line will run from the Duluth area to the Wausau area.
Are you in favor of an out-of-state powerline?"
RESULTS:    NO 88%    YES 12%



Rally in Duluth, please help
Thursady, MAY 8, 2001

From: Sandy Lyon

Help stop global climate change / mercury in fish / lands takings / corporate "malling of America" / the demise of the family farm / save Lake Superior / support treaty rights - all at the same time - while supporting alternative energies and cleaner air.


By joining a rally on Tuesday May 8th in Duluth. (9:30 AM) at the DECC. The event is the Minnesota Power (ALLETTE) annual stockholders meeting. SOUL, Wisconsin's largest truly grassroots movement called "Save Our Unique Lands", is organizing a peaceful rally outside the doors at the annual meeting and they are inviting all their friends in the "environmental", "peace and justice", "treaty rights" movements to help show Minnesota Power that the people hold the power - not the corporations.

The DECC is the Duluth Entertainment Center located on Lake Superior's shore (next to Andrew Slade's Aquarium) in downtown Duluth. Meet us in the parking lot. Dress warmly, bring a snack to share, bring good spirits and bring your concern for the health of this planet. Now is the time and this is the place for us all to join forces. This rally is in support of "alternate energies" - and against the "dinosaur technology" of the proposed 250 mile long Duluth to Weston 345,000 bulk transfer transmission line.

There are many mutual issues.
1. Mercury issues (MP wants to sell electricity from its mercury generating coal plants along this line).
2. Human Rights/Environmental Justice issues. MP wants to purchase Manitoba Hydro's "highhead hydro powered" electricity from the dams that have flooded an area the size of the state of Minnesota and destroyed the homelands of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation (PCN) �thereby being party to the highest suicide rate in Canada. Shame on Manitoba Hydro/shame on MP.
3. The proposed line would "defoliate" 4500 acres of Wisconsin woodland/ farmland, devaluate property, ruin retirees future, cause great stress from concern over health issues related to EMF's.
4. The line would "take" people's land using "eminent domain". (including a precious, closely knit Mennonite farming village which lies directly in the path of the bulldozers)
5. The line will not only not serve the area it is destroying, but, it also will "wheel power" on down to Chicago and points further south, like Texas.
6. The 135/185 foot steel towers will harm the bird migrations and some will be built in areas of woodland solitude, thus destroying yet more animal/human/wildlife habitat.
7. The line would cross NW WI ceded territory, one of the last remaining "relatively untouched" areas in the state/country/planet. These are just a few of the reasons why we are inviting you to join us on Tuesday May 8th at 9:30 AM at the DECC in Duluth. We NEED your help.

Bring your favorite issue to the parking lot and together we shall learn from one another how we can use the issue of this particular line, at this particular time, to bring about the change in the world we so desperately need. Please help us out by sending this invitation out to your favorite friends and lists and ask them to help join this movement of change.

Your new chums from Northwest Wisconsin



Protesters greet shareholders


May 9, 2001
Duluth News Tribune

As shareholders arrived for Allete Inc.'s annual meeting Tuesday, they were greeted by a couple dozen opponents of a 250-mile-long power line proposed to be built between Duluth and Wausau, Wis.

The demonstrators hoisted protest signs and handed out leaflets to shareholders, asking them to reconsider the project. Allete, based in Duluth, is the parent company of Minnesota Power. Minnesota Power has teamed up with the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to propose the power line.

Mark Liebaert, a resident of Superior and member of an opposition group called Save Our Unique Lands -- SOUL for short -- said several shareholders have been sympathetic to the group's concerns.

Those concerns include the trees that must be cleared to install the power line, the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields from the line and the prospective source of much of the power for the project -- a controversial dam in Manitoba. The dam was opposed by Cree Indians whose land was flooded by the structure.

This was the second year SOUL demonstrated in front of the Allete meeting. And Liebart believes shareholders have become better informed about some of the project's problems.

But Sandy Brooks of Spring Brook, Wis., who took part in the protest Tuesday, said few shareholders showed interest in listening to her concerns. "They've obviously been fed the corporate line," she said.

Inside the meeting, Allete CEO Ed Russell said he understands some of the opposition to the project but defended it as necessary to ensure reliable service.

"I'm not asking that anyone be disenfranchised," Russell said. "I know there are opinions on both sides, and they should be aired."

But he's concerned about how long the review process may take. Russell warned that if the review system is not overhauled, demand for electricity could outstrip supply and Minnesota could look like California by the end of the decade.


"Property Seizure For Power Lines Considered"


From: Alice McCombs

Time to start making repeated calls, letters, e-mails, faxes, etc. IMMEDIATELY to your State and Federal Legislators.


Task Force To Propose Legislation

May 8, 2001
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Bush's energy task force plans to propose legislation allowing the seizure of private property to accelerate the construction of electrical power lines, three administration officials said Tuesday.

The recommendation is contained in the final draft of a broad energy blueprint to be unveiled by President Bush next week, the officials said. The "eminent domain" authority allows the government to appropriate private property for public use; the property owners are usually compensated.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already has eminent domain authority over the siting of natural gas pipelines, but has no such power over long-distance electricity transmission lines. The lack of authority often requires electrical companies to get approval from several states and numerous local jurisdictions.

Federal authority to locate transmission lines would quicken the approval process, supporters of the provision contend. The shortage of transmission lines has been cited by officials as one reason for bottlenecks in the electric grids and a shortage of power in areas of high demand.

New lines also are needed to connect new power plants to the grid.

Vice President Dick Cheney said on CNN Tuesday that the energy task force he heads will include a recommendation on eminent domain for power lines.

"The issue is whether or not we should have the same authority on electrical transmission lines" as the government has on gas lines, Cheney said. "That's never been granted previously."

He did not say what the recommendation would be.

But the administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the report would ask Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to draw up legislation allowing utilities to obtain rights of way for transmission lines, presumably through FERC.

The energy strategy report is going to the printers in stages this week. Officials said there was no talk of taking out the eminent domain provision, though they could not rule out that remote possibility.

Utilities, not the government, would own the property, one official said.

Earlier this year, a draft of a Republican energy bill in the Senate had included giving FERC eminent domain authority for power lines. But that provision later was deleted when it was introduced by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska.

The electric utility industry for some time has been lobbying for a federal role in siting electric power lines, which now must go through a maze of overlapping local jurisdictions and state agencies for approval.

"If FERC has the eminent siting authority, that will help facilitate siting of electric power transmission lines," said Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities.

It especially would help in getting interstate transmission rights of way approved, he said.

"But it's still not a silver bullet because ... it can still be a cumbersome process," said Owen. Some natural gas pipeline cases before FERC have taken years to resolve, he said.

Critics have questioned whether Cheney's task force will emphasize power production and transmission over conservation.

Cheney said the report would use tax breaks to encourage conservation.

"Most of the financial incentives that we recommend in the report go for conservation or renewables, for increased efficiencies," Cheney said.

The task force will likely recommend tax incentives for purchase of "hybrid," ultra-efficient automobiles that run on gasoline and electricity, one administration official said. A similar provision was included in the budget Bush sent to Congress earlier this year.

The report will also call for a new tax credit for builders of certain new power plants.

Cheney outlined the energy plan at the weekly Senate GOP conference Tuesday.

According to one Republican who was present, the vice president said that while he supported energy price controls when President Nixon used them three decades ago, he wouldn't advocate them now.

Caps that are too high cause voters to blame politicians rather than the utilities, Cheney said, according to the Republican. Excessively low caps undermine the incentives for developing new power sources, Cheney said.

After Cheney spoke, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., rebutted, saying he came from a state where energy prices have risen enormously in the past year, and he favors price caps.

AP reporters Ron Fournier and David Espo contributed to this report.

Email from Stacy Volk of S.O.U.L.
May 10, 2001

Hi to All ~

After reading this I sincerely hope that EVERYONE passes this around to their neighbors and EVERYONE starts making their (repeated) calls, letters, e-mails, faxes, etc. IMMEDIATELY to their Federal Legislators!!!!!!

While I was in the Dentists' waiting room this morning (Wed. May 9,2001) I happened to scan through the print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (front page of the Business Section, left column) and came across this short, but succinct (bad news) article

... Darlene

"Property Seizure For Power Lines Considered"

"President Bush's energy task force plans to propose legislation allowing the seizure (that's exactly what it is) of private property to accelerate the construction of electrical power lines, three administration officials said Tuesday. The recommendation is contained in the final draft of a broad energy blueprint to be unveiled by President Bush next week. The 'eminent domain' authority allows the government to appropriate private property for public use."


Judge OKs power line for Mount Graham Observatory


from Ann Stewart

By Associated Press
May 16, 2001 TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)

Turning aside objections by environmentalists and Indian groups, a federal judge refused to block construction of a 23-mile power line to the university's Mount Graham Observatory. U.S. District Judge Alfredo Marquez ruled Tuesday in favor of the University of Arizona and the U.S. Forest Service. He found that the power line is covered by an exemption from environmental and cultural laws granted by Congress in 1988 that allowed construction of the three telescopes on the mountain near Safford.

Members of the San Carlos Apache tribe, other American Indian groups and environmental activists have fought the project in eight other lawsuits, claiming it would harm the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel and the spruce forest of the Pinaleno Mountains while desecrating a mountain that is sacred to some Apaches. Marquez found that the groups failed to prove the power line was part of a second phase of construction that includes four more telescopes. That portion of the project will be subject to environmental, cultural and religious protection laws from which the first three telescopes were exempt.

"We believe this validates the work of the university and the Forest Service, and we're very pleased that the court recognized that," said Buddy Powell, associate director of the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory, which oversees the Mount Graham telescopes.

But Robin Silver, a spokesman for the Mount Graham Coalition opposing the project, said the university has been allowed to change the rules to fit its needs. "It's really nice when you own the umpires, meaning Congress," he said.


Wausau t-line protest Sunday, May 20th

Spread the word that there will be a rally against the transmission line in Wausau, May 20th at noon at the entrance of Marathon Park!


Dana Churness
Progressive Action Organization
UW-Stevens Point

"Cross-Border Indigenous Alliance Fights Manitoba Hydro Project" Native Americas: Hemispheric Journal of Indigenous Issues, Cornell University, spring 2001 (

A hydroelectric project in Manitoba and a proposed transmission line in Minnesota and Wisconsin are uniting indigenous peoples in a common determination to protect North America's environment.

In 1923, north central Wisconsin was altered by the damming of the Chippewa River. Fifteen thousand acres of forests, ten lakes and the wild rice beds of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (LCO) were sacrificed to hydroelectric generation. Even today, tribal members recall the circumstances of forced relocation and the obliteration of their burial grounds.

In the spring of 1999, LCO learned of plans to build a 250-mile-long, 345-kilovolt transmission line form Duluth, Minn., to Wausau, Wisc. Allete Energy of Duluth and the Public Service Company of Wisconsin, the project's builders, proposed several routes, one of which crossed the reservation.

Neither proponent contacted LCO directly. At the same time, landowners and environmentalists in the affected counties became aware of a marketing alliance between Allete Energy and Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba's Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Nelson-Churchill River Diversion is one of North America's largest hydro projects, producing enough electricity to supply the province of Manitoba as well as utility customers in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Minnesota. Concerned that the Duluth-Wausau line would become the conduit to ship Manitoba Hydro's cheap electricity to lucrative markets east and south of Wisconsin, northern residents began to organize.

"We all have different worries about this line," explained Colette Wolf, who is LCO's representative to Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., the grassroots group that has formed to advocate alternatives to the transmission project. For 20 years, cancer levels on the reservation have been high. "We suspect it's related to ELF [extremely low frequency]," said Michael Isham Jr., vice chairman of the LCO Tirbal Governing Board. "There is this extremely low frequency facility just east of our reservation, built by the U.S. Navy in the 1960s to communicate with American submarines throughout the world. We're bombarded by electro-magnetic pollution. We don't need a transmission line to our west."

Wolf and Isham collaborated to educate LCO about siting the line and explained the likely connection to Manitoba, where five Cree communities reside along the Nelson River. "Obviously our hydro history helped us quickly comprehend what is happening a thousand miles away," said Art Tainter, a member of the LCO Tribal Governing Board. "We are especially sympathetic to the plight of Pimicikamak Cree Natioon at Cross Lake." PCN, as it is called, is located a few miles from the control gate that releases water stored in Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River hydro system. The water fluctuations cause continual bank and island erosion and disrupt travel by boat and snowmobile, making it difficult for trappers and fishermen to feed their families. The community experiences some of the higest rates of suicide of any aboriginal reserve in Canada. Its unemployment rate hovers at 95 percent.

In September 1999, LCO became the first American tribe to pass a resolution supporting the Pimicikamak Crees. The resolution calls for greatly increased investments by private, public and tribal entities in energy conservation and genunely renewable energy sources in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, to displace the need to purchase additional electricity from Manitoba Hydro. It also opposes building transmission lines in the territory ceded to the Chippewa in the treaties of 1836, 1837 and 1842.

LCO Tribal Governing Board members took the resolution to the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Debate focused on whether the transmission line would also provide power to operate a proposed sulfide mine at the headwaters of the Wolf River, home of the Sokaogon Band of Chippewa at Mole Lake. The river flows south through the reservation of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. Both organizations unanimously upheld the resolution.

"We are the ones who have to bear the burdens and we are the ones who should decide and we say egaweeni -- No -- to the proposed line," said Vice Chair Isham.

A decision by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is expected later this year.


SOUL in Madison June 7
Who Owns America? conf. June 6-9


From Linda Ceylor

On June 7th, you have the opportunity to take part in a legislative listening session, and appear outside of the Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rally. While the decision on the Duluth-Wausau tranbsmission line has not yet been made, we have established a legal record that should assure victory---but politics and corporate financing still make this fight monumental.

So please---busses will leave from Krug Tours, Medford, 6am & Stage Stop, Mosinee, 7:10 am. In order to reserve your seat call Georgia Shupe @ 715-748-2068. Cost will be $20.00. If you are driving, meet us at the State Capitol, 10:00 am, room 225 NW. We rally at the PSC (610 N. Whitney Way, behind Irish Waters off of University) at 1:00 PM.

Please call & write your legislators and ask them to attend the listening session! Call Governor McCallum and request his presence. Do this even is you are unable to attend--they will listen for you. This may be our last time to speak out, make it count--- we are counting on you!!!

See you there---
SOUL, Save Our Unique Lands


Who Owns America? III
Conference Announcement

Madison, WI. Minority groups in America have been losing land and home ownership at an alarming rate in recent decades. African Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans are virtually landless in comparison to other Americans. But they are fighting back. Through court actions, organized land purchases, and community organizing, these groups are attempting to reclaim a stake in the American dream and reverse minority land loss, estimated at 1,000 acres every day.

The Land Tenure Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a summit on minority land loss on 6-9 June 2001. Leaders and grassroots activists from Canada, Mexico, and the United States will assemble in Madison to describe current strategies, share findings, and develop plans for action. The public is encouraged to participate at the UW Memorial Union (800 Langdon St.).

Prominent speakers include Winona LaDuke (Green Party vice- presidental candidate, evening of June 6), Joe Brooks (founder of the Emergency Land Fund) and David Arizmendi (Executive Director of Projecto Azteca). They will be joined by nearly 100 others who will present their stories and strategies for increasing minority land holdings and protecting community security. (On June 7 at 10:30 will be a workshop on Native/non-Native environmental alliances.)

The closing session will feature of panel of journalists discussing how to focus media attention on the critical problem of land loss in North America's communities of color.

Registration is now open. Details can be found at the Who Owns America?
Marsha Cannon 608-262-3658;
Gene Summers 608-767-3223;



Power vs. People:

How did Wisconsin lose its democracy?

(First of a four-part series)

By Rob Zaleski
July 21, 2001

In serene Vernon County, the state Department of Transportation pushes ahead with a major reconstruction of a 6.9-mile section of Highway 131 in the ecologically fragile Kickapoo River valley - at a cost of $20.5 million - despite an outcry from citizens groups and environmentalists who say their voices have been virtually ignored.

In Arcadia in Trempealeau County, corporate giant Ashley Furniture - after first being rebuffed by the Department of Natural Resources - is granted a special exemption by Gov. Tommy Thompson and the state Legislature to expand into a 15-acre wetland adjacent to the Trempealeau River. Watchdog groups later discover that Ashley officials contributed more than $30,000 to Thompson's re-election efforts and also made significant contributions to key members of the legislative committee that OK'd the budget provision.

In Adams County, just east of Wisconsin Dells, Perrier Group of America Inc. refuses to abandon its plans for a massive bottling operation even after two governors, the County Board and voters in two towns make it clear that the international bottler is not welcome there.

And, amazingly enough, these aren't just a few isolated examples. Big-money interests are pretty much setting the agenda in many Wisconsin communities these days.

It's happening so often that many beleaguered citizens are asking, whatever happened to old-fashioned democracy in Wisconsin? How and when did state agencies and big corporations gain such clout? And how and when did the little guys become mere spectators in the democratic process?

More important, is there any getting out of this mess?

"I remember when I was growing up in Marshfield back in the '60s, there was this attitude that Wisconsin's government was so squeaky clean it was above corruption. And to a certain degree, we believed the hype," says Madison activist John Stauber.

Not anymore, says Stauber, author and founder of the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy. He says we should all be appalled and embarrassed by the shenanigans that now routinely take place under the Capitol dome.

Still, while the questions are simple ones, the answers are rather complicated, political observers say. Even so, it's critical that we find solutions - and fast - because "we're seriously in danger of going from one person, one vote in this state to one dollar, one vote," says Assembly Minority Leader Spencer Black, D-Madison.

"And that's bad news for the average family, because the average family obviously can't write out checks for $1,000 or $10,000 to a candidate. The average family can't hire a lobbyist who makes $300 or $500 an hour."

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign agrees with that gloomy assessment. He also points out that this is actually the second dark period in Wisconsin's political history. The first occurred in the late 1800s, when well-heeled banking, timber and railroad interests infiltrated the system and "there were stories of bags of money literally being exchanged in the Capitol."

All that changed, he says, when citizens woke up and organized grass-roots efforts that elevated "Fighting" Bob La Follette and other Progressive reformers into office. And the measures they enacted - including a ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns - made Wisconsin a national model. Then, in 1977, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Wisconsin distinguished itself further by enacting the first system of public financing of state election campaigns in the country.

Less than a decade later, however, things began to unravel. Corporations and others with deep pockets discovered loopholes in the campaign finance laws and sizable, often untraceable contributions began to flow into the system - to the point where, in many instances, corporations now dictate public policy and politicians have become little more than pawns. All at the expense, of course, of those who can't afford to play the game.

No question, McCabe says, that Thompson, a Republican who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - bears much of the blame for Wisconsin's current plight. But, he quickly adds, "our campaign finance laws have been rendered toothless by the political dentistry of both parties."

Indeed, Stauber maintains that the political climate actually changed when Tony Earl, Thompson's predecessor, "came into office as the Democratic populist (in 1983) and immediately turned to big business and asked, essentially, 'What can I do for you?' "

Still, many of the more than two dozen activists, educators, progressive politicians and ordinary citizens interviewed for this series agreed that Thompson's ascension to the gubernatorial throne in 1987 ushered in a new era of Wisconsin politics, the likes of which this state had never seen before.

In his zeal to provide a much-needed jolt to Wisconsin's economy, Thompson - along with his one-time chief aide, former Exxon lobbyist James Klauser - brokered huge tax cuts for big business and pushed through legislation that directly benefited many of his biggest campaign contributors, from banking interests to highway contractors.

What Thompson and Klauser did "was to introduce a different ethic into the way politics is practiced here," McCabe says. "So what we now have is a sort of pay-to-play approach. You just hear too many stories from people in positions to know about how they were expected to contribute, depending on their issue, $5,000 or $10,000 or $50,000 for their agenda to move."

It was Thompson, activists note, who set the tone for what was to come by refusing to abide by state spending limits during his 1990 re-election campaign and spending an astonishing $4 million - or four times what any previous candidate had spent.

It was Thompson who promoted friends and cronies to positions of authority and, in the opinion of critics, transformed the Public Service Commission into a rubber stamp for the utilities. It was Thompson who granted unprecedented power to the Department of Transportation, which went on a road construction spree and introduced a new form of public hearing that those who have attended them say is designed to minimize direct debates.

And it was Thompson who in 1995 convinced the Republican-controlled Legislature to dismantle the state Public Intervenor's Office, a watchdog - with the power to sue - that had been created in the '60s by a Republican governor, Warren Knowles. Thompson's move left small communities virtually defenseless against corporations and big government projects. Then, lest there be any doubt about who was running the show, the Elroy native took away the DNR secretary's independence by making the job a Cabinet position.

Madison attorney Laura Sutherland, who worked part time in the intervenor's office, says she didn't appreciate the impact of what Thompson had orchestrated until she moved into private practice. Now, three years later, she says she's fully cognizant of the staggering costs that tiny communities and environmental groups must bear while hiring a law firm to represent them.

Moreover, litigation in such cases "is becoming more complex all the time - both in terms of state statutes and regulations and just the extent to which the corporations are willing to go to pull out all the stops," she notes.

"We've seen that with the Crandon mine. There is no expense that the Nicolet Minerals Co. will spare in fighting every step of the way along the permit process."

But, again, if Thompson and the Republicans were primarily responsible for opening the floodgates, McCabe and others say, Democrats haven't exactly turned their backs on the free-for-all.

Case in point: last year's 10th Senate District race in which Democratic incumbent Alice Clausing and Republican challenger Sheila Harsdorf - the victor - combined to spend $1.7 million, making it the most costly Senate race in state history. The candidates themselves spent $712,000, while special interest groups - led by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which supported Clausing - contributed an additional $940,000.

"I mean, just think about that - all that money for a seat in a small rural district in northwestern Wisconsin that pays just $40,000 a year," McCabe marvels.

Even more disturbing, he says, is that another $1 million was spent "under the radar" by the conservative Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and other special interest groups on controversial issue ads that don't have to be reported to the state Elections Board.

Black, who fondly remembers spending just $17,000 in his first run for office in 1984, finds those numbers chilling. "Because that money does not come free," he says. "People who invest that money are rational actors and, like any investor, they are investing because it will result in substantial returns on their investment."

Harsh fact is, "you cannot raise $2 million campaigning the way I always did, which was a once-a-year ice cream social with my neighbors - I don't care how many cherries you put on the sundaes."

McCabe believes there were two other factors that contributed to today's chaos: The state in 1986 stopped adjusting the spending limits for inflation for legislative campaigns - it's still $34,500 for Senate candidates, $17,250 for Assembly candidates - a decision he contends was largely influenced by then Assembly Speaker Tom Loftus, D-Sun Prairie.

And the state never revisited how it funded the public financing system, which was created with a $1 checkoff on personal income tax returns.

As a result, there's not nearly enough money in the fund to fully cover the state public financing grants that candidates are promised under the law. Consequently, there's no incentive for candidates to accept the spending limits that they have to abide by if they accept a public grant.

"And the combination of those two things led to a wholesale abandonment of the system," McCabe says. "To the point where nobody in a competitive race takes public financing or runs a campaign under spending limits. So what you've got is essentially a lawless environment where candidates can raise and spend as much as they want."

However, Madison attorney Ed Garvey, who was outspent 11-1 by Thompson in his unsuccessful 1998 gubernatorial bid, finds McCabe's logic "laughable."

"Sure, those were factors," says Garvey, whose law firm is representing several different citizens groups fighting big-money projects in various parts of the state. "But it's like putting your finger in the dike. What happened was, this tidal wave of special interest money was coming from Washington and elsewhere. And the money just overwhelmed any reforms that were out there.

"And what McCabe's saying is, 'Yeah, but you forgot to mow the lawn.' "

Question is, where were democracy's watchdogs while all this was going on?

"Asleep, I'm afraid," says Phil Lewis, a local activist and semi-retired professor of landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin.

"When corporations can come in and take control the way they have, it doesn't just mean our political system's failed, but our educational system and the media have failed as well," he says.

Stauber agrees, but suggests that ordinary citizens aren't totally blameless either.

"This might seem a little weird,' he says, " but I think part of the problem is that the '80s and '90s were an incredibly self-centered, 'I've got mine, you go away' couple of decades. It wasn't cool or hip to be civic-minded and responsible."

Whoever's at fault, most of those interviewed agreed that there's no more glaring example of how the system has broken down than Perrier's refusal to give up on its proposed $100 million bottling operation in the town of New Haven in Adams County.

It's all the more galling, opponents say, in that Perrier promised initially that it wouldn't stick around if it wasn't welcome. Since then, voters in the towns of New Haven and Newport have overwhelmingly rejected Perrier's plans in nonbinding referendums and the County Board voted 14-3 last fall in favor of a resolution opposing any changes in zoning laws that would accommodate the plant.

Even Thompson - who met with Perrier CEO Kim Jeffery last year but refused to meet face to face with Perrier opponents - publicly stated upon leaving the governor's office last January that the citizens of Adams County had spoken and that it was time for Perrier to seek out other options.

And yet, even after the Swiss-owned Connecticut company announced last May that it had settled on another location - near Grand Rapids, Mich. - for its next plant, Jeffery made it clear that Perrier plans to "reconsider the Adams County site several years into the future, depending on market demand."

"Oh, it's been tough," says Chuck Hill, a gritty 65-year-old retired carpenter who became chairman of the town of New Haven in a hotly contested recall election in the fall of 1999.

"We've told Perrier we definitely don't want them here - I don't know how many times we have to tell them that. We've filed lawsuits. We've made numerous trips to the State Capitol to try to persuade the legislators down there that we don't want Perrier. What else can we do?"

The thing is, "democracy shouldn't be this difficult," sighs Joan Byers, a retiree and one of the founders of the anti-Perrier group Waterkeepers of Wisconsin. "My husband and I have devoted the last 16 months of our lives to this. And we're not the only ones. Practically everyone in New Haven has gotten involved.

"We've gone to meetings, talked on the phone, sent thousands of e-mails and faxes. We've written letters to every important person we know and some we don't know."

There have been a few encouraging signs, Perrier opponents note. A provision in the current state budget would make it more difficult for companies like Perrier to bottle Wisconsin water. What's more, it would apply retroactively to permits that the DNR granted to Perrier last fall.

More encouraging yet, Gov. Scott McCallum has indicated several times that he's against the Perrier project, although Hill and others point out that he hasn't come right out and demanded that the company "take a hike." (See accompanying article.)

Of course, it's no great mystery why Perrier is sticking around.

"They know our water's as pure as it gets, and they know the pocketbooks of local citizens are only so deep," says Hill, noting that Waterkeepers of Wisconsin has already accumulated nearly $90,000 in legal fees.

Still, if Perrier officials actually believe they can win this battle, Byers says, they're sadly mistaken.

"The longer they stay here, the angrier we get," she says defiantly. "Sooner or later, they're bound to get the message."



By Andy Napgezek
Wausau Daily Herald
Aug. 18, 2001

MADISON � A three-member commission Friday unanimously approved a controversial proposal to build a 240-mile power line through northwestern Wisconsin.

The decision capped more than two years of heated debate about energy need, environmental damage, property owners� rights and public opinion.

In the end, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, after a yearlong review of more than 10,000 pages of public and expert testimony regarding the 345-kilovolt Arrowhead-Weston line, said it found the project to be the only reasonable solution to an overtaxed electrical supply system.

"The present-day power system is particularly susceptible to outages," PSC Commissioner Ave Bie said. "Alternatives do not meet the need of Wisconsin."

Dozens of project critics crammed the meeting room at the Public Service Commission offices in Madison and overflowed into standby areas during the public hearing. They received the news quietly, with only a few objections during the 2 1/2-hour meeting.

The audience, which consisted mostly of power line opponents, kept its cool because most people knew the approval was coming, said Robert Ringstad, a board member for Save Our Unique Lands, or SOUL.

"It�s just exactly what we expected," said Ringstad, who lives north of Ladysmith and owns 2,700 feet of riverfront property along the Chippewa River. The power line will cross the Chippewa on its way from the Duluth area to the Weston Power plant in Rothschild.

Ringstad was so convinced that the commission would allow the American Transmission Co. and Minnesota Power to build the line that he put up a sign Thursday afternoon criticizing the commission.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp., which originally proposed the line with Minnesota Power, is a part of the American Transmission Co.

Richard Wentzel, chairman of the Sierra Club�s Wisconsin River Country Group and an Edgar resident, said simply: "Wisconsin politics are extremely predictable."

The three commissioners examined the documentation independently and discussed their opinions for the first time on Friday. They agreed that the power line is an imperfect solution, but said the lack of viable alternatives and increasing demands on the state�s outdated transmission system called for immediate action.

Christopher Schoenherr, an Alliant Energy spokesman and Wausau native, said the decision was a difficult one, but it needed to be made.

He said the commission did a good job of weighing its options and pushing the transmission line as just one aspect of the solution to the state�s energy needs.

"The trend has been so clear," he said. "It can�t just be (importation), generation or conservation. It has to be a combination of all three things."

Alliant is not directly involved in the project, but Schoenherr said that, like all the state�s utilities, Alliant will benefit from the additional transmission capabilities the new line will afford.

He said he knows the issue elicits strong reactions.

"I�ve got a pretty good feel for people�s connection with the land," he said. "I know this is a gut-wrenching process for people. It�s gut-wrenching for us, too."

The commission didn�t grant everything the utilities requested. The panel denied the utilities� preferred route through Tripoli where a proposed substation would run a 115-kilovolt line to Rhinelander.

Instead, the route will swing further south and follow a more direct path from the Duluth area to Rothschild.

Commissioners considered each proposed route for its use of existing corridors and rights of way, the type of land it cut through and whether it would disturb historical sites.

The panel will require the utilities to hire an independent environmental inspector, draft a wetlands mitigation plan and consult the Wisconsin Historical Society regarding landmarks and artifacts.

Commission spokesman Jeff Butson said the draft order, which lists route specifications and project requirements, should be complete in four to six months.

Opponents plan to appeal the decision.

"Having a transmission line approved and building a transmission line can be two completely different things," Wentzel said.



Residents glad power line path rejected

By Jenny Price
Associated Press
Aug. 18, 2001

While communities in northwestern Wisconsin prepare for a new power transmission line, residents who live along another route state regulators rejected are thankful the project won't be built in their backyards.

The state Public Service Commission on Friday approved a 250-mile transmission line stretching from Duluth, Minn., to Wausau. Opponents say it will drive down property values and harm the North Woods.

That's why some who live along U.S. Highway 8 from Exeland to Rhinelander, the transmission line route commissioners rejected, say they're relieved 80-foot to 120-foot-tall power poles won't be dotting their landscape.

"We were very concerned that it was coming our way," said Bob Lee, mayor of Tomahawk and a member of the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors.

Lee received word of the PSC's decision Friday while at a fish fry in Tomahawk.

"When the news came on with the announcement, everybody in the place was kind of thrilled," he said.

Part of the line, which also would have gone through Rusk, Price and Oneida counties, would have run through Lincoln County's western edge, home to pristine county forest land and two wolf packs, Lee said.

Instead, the line approved by the PSC and backed by Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Minnesota Power will run southeast from Duluth through Douglas, Washburn, Sawyer, Rusk and Taylor counties before reaching Wausau. It could carry enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.

Neal Nuernberger, owner of M&N's Somo View Resort, northwest of Tomahawk on Somo Lake, said the transmission line would have been visible from the lake if it were built on the alternate route.

"It was going to go a half-mile south of our lake," he said. "We would have probably lost some business and it would have hurt, I'm sure, in the long run."

The proposed transmission line route might have forced Randy and Holly Wilund to close their bowling alley and resort in Prentice. The property includes camp sites on waterfront property.

"It was going to go right through our property here," Holly Wilund said.

Most Prentice residents opposed the transmission line going near their community of about 570 people, she said.

"Basically they want to keep it the way it is - no big business," she said.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 19, 2001.


Group sues to block power line project

Creation of independent company to operate electric grid violates state constitution, lawsuit says

By Lee Hawkins Jr.
Journal Sentinel staff
Sept. 6, 2001

A group that opposes the construction of an electric transmission line from Wausau to Duluth asked a state appeals court Thursday to block the state Public Service Commission's approval of the project.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for the group, called Save Our Unique Lands, or SOUL, object to a 1999 law that authorized the creation of an independent transmission company to operate the state's electric grid.

The law allowed utility companies to diversify their non-utility holdings but also required the utilities to divest their transmission assets to protect against possible manipulation of prices by controlling the power lines.

But in creating the independent company, American Transmission Co., the law benefits utility profits rather than the public good, SOUL attorneys contend. American Transmission would eventually take over operation of the Wausau-to-Duluth line, they say.

"Essentially we are challenging the fundamental statute that authorizes ATC," said Glenn M. Stoddard, a Madison lawyer who represents SOUL.

Stoddard said the state constitution does not permit the Legislature to create for-profit companies like American Transmission.

Maripat Blankenheim, a spokeswoman for American Transmission, could not immediately be reached at her office late Thursday afternoon. But in the past, the company has said it expects to survive any legal challenges.

"One of the reasons ATC came about was (former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson's) concerns about reliability long-term," Blankenheim told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an August interview.

The $175 million line, which would give Wisconsin another means to tap power sources to the West and in Canada, was proposed by Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Minnesota Power Inc. The 240-mile line would rise as high as a 12-story building and cut through forests, farmland, and cross several popular northern Wisconsin rivers.

The PSC's three commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of the project in August, but have not yet issued a formal decision.

Jeff Butson, a PSC spokesman, said the agency's attorneys had not reviewed the lawsuit and declined to comment specifically on it.

"Our attorneys will have to take a look at it before we can really make a comment on the implications of this lawsuit," Butson said. Meanwhile, executives at Wisconsin Public Service said they are confident.

"This was not an unexpected appeal. While we'll want to see the exact wording of appeal, we would expect this to be part of the normal judicial process," said Al Herrman, a spokesman for the utility.

"We believe the laws were followed in the formation of ATC." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 7, 2001



Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001, 01-04 , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12 . 1999 .
Wisconsin's Rural RebellionModel Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03, 04-07 . 1999 .
Midwest Treaty Network Contents