TWIN FALLS — The construction of a major power transmission line in southern Idaho is a step closer thanks to the $1.1 trillion budget bill passed in the U.S. House on Wednesday.
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Boundary Modification Act, which would route the Gateway West line near existing power lines through the raptor conservation area south of Boise, was included in the same bill that funds the government through the end of September. If it passes the Senate and is signed by President Donald Trump, it would avert a government shutdown.
The land under the lines would be removed from the conservation area, with land near Interstate 84 added to make up for it. This was the last stretch of the route to still need federal approval, and the compromise had the support of the involved government agencies and conservation groups as well as Idaho’s entire congressional delegation.
The 1,000-mile project, proposed in 2009 by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, would stretch high-voltage power lines from Owyhee County to Glenrock, Wyo., passing through the Magic Valley. A statement from U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, whose district includes the Magic Valley, thanks the relevant committee chairs and credits U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, who is on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with gathering support in the Senate and guaranteeing its inclusion in the final omnibus package.