Public release of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (Draft Solar PEIS) is planned for December 16, 2010. The Draft Solar PEIS will be available for public review and comment on the Internet at the Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS Information Center (http://solareis.anl.gov) in a searchable and downloadable format.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Energy (the Agencies) have prepared the Draft Solar PEIS to (1) assess the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with utility-scale solar energy development on BLM-administered lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, and (2) evaluate a number of alternatives to determine the best management approach to mitigating potential impacts and facilitating solar energy development.
Submitting Public Comments on the Draft Solar PEIS
The public comment period for the Draft Solar PEIS will begin when the Environmental Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register. The anticipated publication date for the NOA is Friday, December 17. The public will have 90 days to review and comment on the Draft Solar PEIS. Assuming the NOA is published December 17, the Agencies will accept written comments on the draft PEIS postmarked through March 17, 2011, and electronic comments sent via the web site through March 17, 2011.
Comments can be submitted electronically via a comment form available on the web site (http://solareis.anl.gov) or by mail to:
Draft Solar Energy Programmatic EIS
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue – EVS/240
Argonne, IL 60439
Comments can also be submitted orally or in writing at public meetings. The Agencies will hold 14 public meetings on the Draft Solar EIS; the dates, times, and specific locations for these meetings will be announced through local news media and through the project Website. Public meetings are currently planned for the following locations:
Cedar City, Utah;
El Centro, California;
Las Cruces, New Mexico;
Las Vegas, Nevada;
Palm Springs, California;
Salt Lake City, Utah;
Meeting venues, dates, and times will be posted on the project web site, and notification will be sent via this e-mail list.
Public involvement is a key component of the PEIS process. An additional public scoping comment period has been opened. The public is invited to submit public comments for consideration in identifying environmental issues, existing resource data, and industry interest with respect to solar energy study areas.
Solar Energy Study Area Scoping Comments Available
NEW! Public scoping comments received in response to publication of the solar energy study area maps are now available for downloading/browsing. The maps identify 24 tracts of BLM-administered land for in-depth study for solar development. During the comment period (June 30-September 14, 2009), the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management solicited input on environmental issues, existing resource data, and industry interest with respect to the study areas.
Solar Energy Study Area Maps and Additional Public Scoping
On June 30, 2009 the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (the Agencies) announced the availability of maps that identify 24 tracts of BLM-administered land for in-depth study for solar development. The study area maps are available in PDF format on the Solar Energy Study Area Maps page. The Agencies solicited public comments for consideration in identifying environmental issues, existing resource data, and industry interest with respect to the proposed study areas.
Public scoping comments were accepted through September 14, 2009. The public comment period is now closed.
Original Public Scoping Comments
Public comments received during the original scoping period (May 29, 2008, through July 15, 2008), including individual letters, comments received electronically, and oral comments presented at scoping meetings, are available on this Web site, under Search Scoping Comments.
Public comments received during the new scoping period (June 30, 2009, through September 14, 2009), including individual letters and comments received electronically, will be available on this Web site, under Search Scoping Comments, after the public comment period is closed.
Scoping Summary Report Available
The scoping summary report, entitled Summary of Public Scoping Comments Received during the Scoping Period for the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is available for downloading or browsing online under Documents. The report presents a summary of the comments that were received during the original scoping period (May 29, 2008, through July 15, 2008). The DOE and the BLM will use this report and the individual comments as part of a process to determine the scope of analysis in the PEIS.
Public Scoping Process
During the original scoping period (May 29, 2008, through July 15, 2008), the Agencies invited interested Federal and State agencies, organizations, Native American tribes, and members of the public to submit comments or suggestions to assist in identifying significant environmental issues and in determining the scope of this PEIS. The public scoping period started with the publication of the Notice of Intent in the Federal Register and ended July 15, 2008.
During the public scoping period, the Agencies work collaboratively with interested parties to identify the management decisions that are best suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns. Early participation helps determine the content of each Agency’s solar energy program and the future management of the Federal, State, tribal or private lands used for utility-scale solar energy projects.
For the current additional scoping period electronic and mailed comments will be given equal weight, and the Agencies will consider all comments that were received or postmarked by September 14, 2009. Comments received or postmarked after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.
Public Scoping Meetings
During the original scoping period (May 29, 2008, through July 15, 2008) public scoping meetings for the Solar Energy Development PEIS were held in eleven cities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah in June and July 2008, on the dates and times indicated under Public Meetings. No public meetings will be held for the additional public scoping period.
Transcripts of the scoping meetings, as well as materials presented at the scoping meetings, including agency presentations, technical summaries prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and a project factsheet, are available on the Documents and Public Meetings pages.
The Agencies invite any Federal, State, or local agency or tribal government with jurisdiction by law or special expertise in solar energy development to be a cooperating agency. The U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, the Arizona Game and Fish Department the Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Southwestern Region, U.S. Forest Service; Nevada Department of Wildlife; Clark County, Nevada; Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, and the State of Utah have already indicated that they plan to participate as cooperating agencies. Other agencies or governments may become cooperating agencies at a later date.
Future Public Involvement Opportunities
Scoping is one phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis process. It is intended to give interested parties the chance to comment on a proposed action and to offer suggestions about the issues to be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping is the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to provide input on the Solar Energy Development PEIS. The public and other interested parties will be invited to provide comments on the Draft PEIS when it is published.
For More Information
For more information on public participation in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, please consult the following publications:
For further information on the Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS, please contact:
Department of Energy
Phone: (202) 287-6188
Bureau of Land Management
Phone: (202) 912-7337