News Release

For Release:  July 28, 2008       
Contact:   Stephen Razo (951) 697-5217; e-mail srazo@ca.blm.gov
CA-CDD-08-59

BLM Proposes Changes to Eastern San Diego County Plan to Expand Wind Energy Access

In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress set forth a renewable energy goal of at least 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects located on public lands by 2015.  In pursuit of this goal and in response to rising public demands for renewable energy development, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing significant changes to its proposed resource management plan (PRMP) for public lands in Eastern San Diego County to make additional areas available for renewable energy applications. 
 
BLM previously issued its PRMP and accompanying Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for this area in December 2007.  Concerns were raised that the PRMP was overly restrictive to wind energy development in an area of high wind energy potential.  According to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the wind energy power potential in portions of this area are rated "excellent" to "superb."  A map is available at http://www.nrel.gov/wind/resource_assessment.html
 
Specifically, BLM is changing the PRMP regarding wind energy in the vicinity of McCain Valley to designate about 12,195 acres as visual resource management class IV and make them available for renewable energy applications.  In addition, BLM is also changing the PRMP to make the Lark Canyon Off-Highway Vehicle Area and the Lark Canyon Campground/Staging Area, covering 1,300 acres, also available for wind energy applications.  Under the 2007 PRMP, 6,931 acres were available for wind energy.  The proposed changes would increase the lands available for this use to 20,426 acres.  Other changes to clarify visual resource management classifications are also proposed, as explained in the Federal Register Notice available at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/fed_reg_archives.html
 
The BLM would require site-specific environmental review for any proposed wind energy project before it could be approved.  Proposed wind energy projects would also be required to comply with other laws and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  Specific impacts of wind energy projects and the identification of possible mitigation measures such as site design, turbine array, and turbine design would be analyzed at that time.  This environmental review would also include the opportunity for additional public participation.
 
The notice initiates a 30-day public comment period that ends August 27, 2008.  Comments must be limited to the changes proposed.  BLM will consider the comments received prior to issuing a final Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan for public lands in the Eastern San Diego County area.
 
Written comments should be submitted to Erin Dreyfuss, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, BLM El Centro Field Office, 1661 S. 4th Street, El Centro, CA  92243.  Comments may also be emailed to caesdrmp@.ca.blm.gov or faxed to (760) 337-4490 Attention: Erin Dreyfuss, Planning and Environmental Coordinator.

For more information visit the BLM El Centro Field Office website at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro.html

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