U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
Arizona State Office
|Release Date: 10/26/12|
BLM Releases Final EIS for Restoration Design Energy Project
PHOENIX, AZ – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Arizona will announce in the Federal Register tomorrow the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendments for the Restoration Design Energy Project (RDEP).
The RDEP identifies lands across Arizona that may be suitable for renewable energy development. The Renewable Energy Development Areas (REDAs) are BLM-administered lands that have been previously disturbed or have been identified as having few known resource conflicts and could accommodate solar or wind energy projects.
The EIS sets the stage for a record of decision, which would amend BLM’s Resource Management Plans across the State to incorporate the REDAs.
“This statewide commitment to resource-driven, landscape-level planning effort is really tremendous and reflects the significant work of stakeholders across Arizona,” said BLM Arizona Director Raymond Suazo. “We need to make sure that renewable energy development is taking place in the right way and in the right places, and this is an important step toward facilitating smart solar energy development in Arizona.”
In addition, the EIS evaluates a plan to establish the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) in Yuma County, north of Interstate 8 near Dateland. SEZs were established in the recently announced Solar Energy Programmatic EIS (PEIS), which identifies areas suited for the development of utility-scale solar projects (greater than 20 megawatts) in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
The Solar PEIS identified two SEZs in Arizona; the Agua Caliente SEZ would be a third. The BLM will issue separate records of decision for the Agua Caliente SEZ and for the plan amendments to accommodate the REDAs.
The EIS process requires Federal agencies to consider a proposed action and alternatives, including a no action alternative. The process also requires that the Federal agency identify a preferred alternative.
The RDEP EIS preferred alternative identifies a total of 192,100 acres that are previously disturbed, or have low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts within 5 miles of a transmission line or a designated transmission corridor, and close to cities, towns, or industrial centers. In addition, the preferred alternative sets standards that avoid impacts on sensitive watersheds, ground water supply, and water quality.
The preferred alternative for the Agua Caliente SEZ proposes a footprint of 2,550 acres. The EIS considered a potential 20,600 acres for the SEZ.
An electronic copy of the Final EIS, including maps, will be available on Oct. 26 at http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/energy/arra_solar.html.
The BLM anticipates the records of decision will be signed by the end of 2012. The records of decision will culminate what has been a more than two-year-long process.
Completion of the RDEP EIS does not eliminate the need for further environmental review of individual sites. Proposed renewable developments outside of a REDA or a SEZ will also be considered on a case-by-case basis and are subject to applicable BLM state and national policy identified in the Solar PEIS.
Publication of the Final RDEP EIS by the Environmental Protection Agency on November 2, initiates a 30-day protest period. The BLM will consider comments in preparation of the RDEP records of decision to the extent practicable. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
Fax: Attention: Lane Cowger, 602-417-9452;
Mail or other delivery service:
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
|Last updated: 10-26-2012|
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