Camas hires legal team to help in fight against BPA project

Foster Pepper will compile response to draft EIS

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The City of Camas has engaged the legal firm of Foster Pepper PLLC to represent its interests regarding the proposed Bonneville Power Administration I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project.

The city announced the move this morning in a media release. City leaders have publicly voiced strong opposition to the project, and hinted in the past that legal action could be a possibility.

A portion of the project, including a segment along SR-14, is proposed to be within Camas city limits.

“BPA released a draft environmental impact statement in November 2012,” the release states. “The DEIS proposes, among other things, above ground high voltage utility lines to run along SR-14 in the Camas city limits. Camas is concerned about the impacts on the community’s surroundings, and also on safety issues.”

A 1995 city ordinance requires any new utility lines be placed underground.

“This was done to preserve the aesthetics of the community, and to improve the reliable provision of services,” the release states.

Community Development Director Phil Bourqin said this morning that the city has agreed to a contract with Foster Pepper that at this time will not exceed $10,000, Over the next few weeks, Camas will be working with the legal team, and with partners such as the city of Washougal, to compile a response to the BPA’s draft environmental impact statement. Comments are due by March 25.

“That is their primary focus at this point,” he said.

In the past, the city of Camas has submitted written and verbal comments to BPA about the project. In addition, in May 2012 the City Council passed a resolution concerning its opposition to placing the 500 kilovolt power lines in Camas.

“Camas is very supportive of the transmission of safe, reliable energy,” the release states. “However, our community also takes great pride in our beautiful natrual surroundings, which play a major role in economic development and int he attractions of new residents.”

Retaining legal assistance of Seattle based Foster Pepper is a move that Camas has, at this point, pursued on its own.

“We are coordinating closely with the city of Washougal on common interests, but as of right now we are working with Foster Pepper on our own,” Bourquin said.