Montana and Idaho are facing transmission siting decisions that could affect landscapes and communities for decades to come. One example is the Mountain States Intertie (MSTI), a 500kV transmission line proposed by NorthWestern Energy from Townsend, MT to Jerome, ID.
To help counties and communities better understand a number of the impacts of the line, the MSTI Review Project provided an independent, transparent analysis. The goal was to create a process that leads to better planning outcomes from a variety of perspectives.
Why did we form? The MSTI Review Project believes that it is essential to work together to protect rural lifestyles, private property, and the natural environment. To that end, we are providing an independent analysis and outreach to affected MSTI counties supported by a high quality, transparent, and meaningful analysis that will ultimately lead to better planning outcomes from a variety of perspectives that are often seen as mutually exclusive.
Why is this important for Montana and Idaho? The Project integrates values that are unique to our Western way of life in Montana and Idaho, such as private property, hunting and fishing, agriculture, viewshed, building density, wildlife habitat, and many others.
What is the independent Project? The MSTI Review Project is a unique effort between Montana counties and non-governmental organizations along the Montana-Idaho border to conduct an independent analysis of the line. The Project is working to:
- Better understand the need and context of the line,
- Assess the economic impacts and benefits of the line, and
- Balance energy development with local values by identifying corridors while protecting the community and environment.
The MSTI Review Project includes Madison County, MT, Jefferson County, MT, Western Environmental Law Center, Headwaters Economics, Sonoran Institute, Craighead Institute, and Future West.
What are we doing? We are sharing unbiased research and scientific data with counties in a transparent process where different perspectives can be discussed and reconciled. Specifically, we are:
- Providing accessible information about energy resources, purpose and need for the line, what the line might carry, and who will pay for it,
- Helping counties understand tax and property value impacts, and
- Developing an objective, quantitative, and transparent spatial analysis of the MSTI line to empower local governments to make informed decisions on the proposed routing alternatives as it pertains to their unique economic, rural, and environmental values and concerns.
Can I participate? The Project is complete and reached out to counties affected by the MSTI line (see map below) in both Montana and Idaho to work with local elected officials and their designees to fill out worksheets indicating the importance of various local assets such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, existing infrastructure, recreation, private lands, public lands, and scenic views, to better inform local decision-making.
How is this related to the MSTI DEIS? Our project is independent from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement being prepared by state and federal agencies, providing unbiased and scientific information to county officials. We are communicating frequently with NorthWestern Energy, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and BLM to ensure that whatever findings we produce will have maximum effectiveness and impact in their decision-making process within the current timeline.
For a map* depicting counties potentially affected by the MSTI line, click here.
*Note: these alternatives are from the unofficial 2010 EIS and are not current alternatives, and are only being provided for reference.