President Bush Signs Historic Land Swap Legislation; Allows Relicensing of 4 Alcoa Dams and Preservation of 10,000 Acres of Land.
Key sponsors of the Senate and House bills were Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn).
Kevin Anton, President of Alcoa Materials Management, thanked both Alexander and Duncan for recognizing that environmental protection could indeed co-exist with sustaining hydropower generation.
"The signed legislation is another step resulting from seven years of discussions with federal and state agencies, surrounding communities and environmental organizations. Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) was seeking their support for the relicensing of the Tapoco Project and its four hydroelectric facilities in Tennessee and North Carolina by FERC," Anton said.
Those hydroelectric facilities power Alcoa Inc.'s operations in Blount County, where the company employs approximately 2,000 people and makes a $400 million annual impact on the local economy.
Anton said the four hydroelectric developments involved in the process are Chilhowee, Calderwood, Cheoah and Santeetlah. Earlier this spring, more than 20 national and local environmental and regulatory groups came together with APGI in a signing ceremony, officially agreeing to the land swap.
"We're proud that a significant part of the relicensing effort involves a land exchange and conservation agreement between APGI, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy," he said.
The land exchange involves the Park and APGI. The Park will transfer 110 acres of land submerged under Chilhowee Lake to Alcoa in exchange for 186 acres of land that is already within Park boundaries.
In addition, under the agreement, APGI would grant, at no cost, a permanent easement for 5,700 acres to The Nature Conservancy. This land, opened for recreational opportunities, sits between the Park and Cherokee National Forest. The Nature Conservancy would have the option to buy this land from APGI and re-sell it to the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, or Tennessee Wildlife Resources, assuring its long-term protection.
Also as part of the agreement, APGI would grant The Nature Conservancy a term easement on another 4,000 acres of land that will continue until expiration of the new FERC license. APGI would establish a conservation fund at $100,000 per year for natural resource stewardship and enhancement activities in Tennessee, such as threatened and endangered species recovery efforts, eco-system enhancements and recreation, management and control of exotic species, and environmental outreach and education directly related to these lands. The fund would be overseen by groups who signed the agreement earlier this year.
Additional measures called for under the agreement for the North Carolina portion of the hydroelectric project include augmenting flows into the Cheoah River, a conservation fund, and constructing new and improving existing recreation facilities.
Signatories of the agreement are: Alcoa Power Generating Inc.; American Rivers, Blount County, City of Alcoa, City of Maryville, Cross Creek Property Owners Association, Friends of Lake Santeetlah, Graham County, N.C., National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, The Nature Conservancy's Tennessee Chapter, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Town of Lake Santeetlah, Town of Robbinsville, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Western North Carolina Alliance.
Alcoa is the world's leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina facilities, and is active in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components, Alcoa also markets consumer brands including Reynolds Wrap(R) foils and plastic wraps, Alcoa(R) wheels, and Baco(R) household wraps. Among its other businesses are vinyl siding, closures, fastening systems, precision castings, and electrical distribution systems for cars and trucks. The company has 120,000 employees in 42 countries and has been a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for 45 years and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes since 2001. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com
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|Date:||Oct 19, 2004|
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