November 02, 2021
Statement by Howard Learner
Attorney on behalf of Plaintiffs Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Refuge Association and Defenders of Wildlife
“The U.S. District Court’s Opinion and Order grants a focused preliminary injunction stopping ATC and the other developers from damaging 114 wetlands on the proposed transmission line path, and the Court finds that Conservation Groups are likely to prevail on the merits. In particular, the Court finds that Conservation Groups have a strong argument on the merits that federal statutes prevent this huge high-voltage transmission line with 20-story high towers from running through the protected Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
“That will require the Federal government agencies to robustly explore and objectively evaluate better, less expensive and less environmentally damaging alternatives. That should have been done before, and, if the District Court’s final decision is aligned with the preliminary injunction Opinion, then it will be required soon.
“The Court’s preliminary injunction decision is well-grounded in both law and common sense. It is in the public interest and can better protect both the environment and ratepayers.
“ATC and ITC should hit the pause button and hold off from creating unnecessary costs and environmental damage while the Court decides the case on the merits over the next 30-60 days. The utilities should stop throwing good money after bad, and stop playing chicken with the people and vital natural resources in Dane, Iowa and Grant Counties in Wisconsin’s scenic Driftless Area landscape, family farms and rural small-town communities.”