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Associated Press, Published August 30 2013

Power line proposed in Killdeer Mountains area

BISMARCK — A power company is planning to build electrical transmission lines and a substation in the area of a historical 1864 battle between Army soldiers and American Indians in what is now western North Dakota.

An alliance seeking to protect the environment and history of the Killdeer Mountains already is battling oil drilling there, and member Rob Sand calls the new proposal "alarming."

Basin Electric Power Cooperative plans to build a line from its Antelope Valley Stations near Beulah west and north into the Bakken oil fields to meet a huge demand for electricity, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

The transmission line route and a new substation would be located where the Army, led by Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully, fought with several bands of Sioux more than 200 years ago. The battlefield is now a state historic site.

The area recently was selected by the National Park Service for its American Battlefield Protection Program. A two-year study will be led by North Dakota State University history professor Tom Isern, who signed the contract just days ago.

Isern said the study will look at battlefield history and archaeology and identify threats to its integrity. Some of the integrity involves aesthetics, he said.

"If they were going to situate a power line to provide maximum disruption to the sightline of this battlefield, this plan will do it," he said.

Project coordinator Curt Pearson said Basin hired an archaeologist to inventory the area.

"No significant cultural sites were identified that would be impacted by this transmission line project," he said. "Because this NPS study is a new development that came about after the required inventories and reports were completed and submitted to the review agencies, we have not had time to fully analyze the significance of this situation."

Sand, who lives near the historic battlefield, coordinates the Killdeer Mountain Alliance, which formed when Hess Corp. filed for oil drilling permits near the battlefield early this year. Hess has said it is committed to safeguarding the environment.

"It's one thing after another," Sand said of the power line proposal. "It is alarming."

The Public Service Commission, which regulates the energy industry in North Dakota, will hold a hearing on Basin's proposal Wednesday at the Killdeer City Hall. Basin is asking the PSC to approve the 200-mile route for spring construction. Basin also has filed notice that it wants to build a second power line in the area.


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