U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
[Federal Register: September 11, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 175)]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Leasing of National System of Public Lands for Geothermal Resource Development in the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area Located in Inyo County, CA and To Amend the California Desert Conservation Area Plan of 1980
SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1976 (NEPA), as amended, and section 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ridgecrest Field Office intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the proposed leasing of approximately 22,060 acres of BLM-managed public lands for geothermal exploration, development, and utilization in the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area located in Inyo County, California. The leasing of public lands for geothermal resources will require an amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan of 1980. Comments are being solicited to help identify significant issues or concerns related to the proposed action, determine the scope of issues, and identify and refine alternatives to the proposed action. The BLM will also use and coordinate the NEPA commenting process to satisfy the requirements for public involvement in section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
DATES: This Notice initiates the public scoping process for the EIS and plan amendment. Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until October 13, 2009. The date(s) and location(s) of the public scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance through local news media, newspapers and the BLM Web site at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to Geothermal Leasing in the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area located in Inyo County, California by any of the following methods:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Dalton at (951) 697-5311, John_Dalton@ca.blm.gov.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM has received three noncompetitive geothermal lease applications for 4,460 acres of public land within the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area in Inyo County, California. In addition, the BLM identified approximately 17,600 acres of public lands, also within the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area and adjacent to the three geothermal lease applications, which will be considered for competitive geothermal leasing under 43 CFR 3203.10(e). The proposed action is to amend the CDCA Plan to allocate project area lands as open or closed to consideration for geothermal leasing, with appropriate stipulations necessary to maintain and protect other resource values and uses, and to develop a Reasonably Foreseeable Development Scenario for geothermal resources development under the authority of the FLPMA and the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970, as amended (30 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.). Individual lease issuance decisions and parcels to be included in a sale will be considered in a manner consistent with the final plan as amended, as subsequent implementation decisions. The public lands being considered for geothermal leasing in the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area are located in sections 11-14, 23-26, 35, and 36 in Township 21 South, Range 37 East, sections 7-10, 15, 17-22, 27-34 in Township 21 South, Range 38 East, in sections 1 and 2 in Township 22 South, Range 37 East, and sections 5-8 in Township 22 South, Range 38 East, all within the San Bernardino and Base Meridian. Total acreage being considered for geothermal leasing is approximately 22,060 acres.
The principal issues identified thus far for consideration in the EIS include Native American concerns; potential land use conflicts including recreation; cumulative impacts considering existing, proposed, and potential geothermal projects in the area; and potential impacts on cultural resources, wildlife, visual resources, and surface and groundwater resources. The EIS will also address other issues such as geology, mining, geothermal resources, vegetation, threatened or endangered species, air quality, noise, transportation, human health and safety, and social and economic issues, as well as any issues raised during the scoping process.
The BLM will provide an explanation in the plan as to why we placed an issue in category two or three. The public is also encouraged to help identify any management questions and concerns that should be addressed in the Plan. The BLM will work collaboratively with interested parties to identify the management decisions that are best suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns.
Consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer will be conducted throughout the planning process.
Jack Hamby, Acting District Manager.