West-wide energy corridors possibly getting a redo

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Environmental groups may have reached a compromise with the federal government over transmission lines in Western states.

Federal land managers may have to re-map controversial energy corridors throughout the West under a proposed compromise that would settle a legal dispute.

A 7-year-old federal law required agencies to develop routes along which new transmission lines could deliver power in Western states. The idea was to speed up power projects.

Environmental groups immediately sued over these corridors, calling them a hopscotch network of rights-of-way that failed to consider large-scale environmental impacts. The environmental groups Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club also complained that the corridors would promote coal power.

Now they and several other groups, two federal agencies and some local authorities are parties to a settlement filed in a federal court in San Francisco. The deal would push renewable energy into corridors while requiring the government to avoid environmentally-sensitive areas.

If a district court judge approves the settlement, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service would have to redraw the routes along which Western electricity transmission lines could go.

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