The subcommittee is examining the issues that surround the option of siting a new transmission line in the Birds of Prey NCA.
Congress established the NCA in 1993 for the "conservation, protection and enhancement of raptor populations and habitat" while allowing "for diverse appropriate uses of lands in the area to the extent consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of raptor populations and habitats."
The NCA became part of the National Landscape Conservtion System (NLCS) when that system was created administratively in 2000. Congress codified the NLCS (Public Law 111-11) in 2009 to conserve and protect the resource values stated in the legislative langauge that created each NLCS unit while allowing compatible activities and uses of lands within the NLCS unit.
A compatible use is one that does not conflict with the resource values
identified in the legislative language that created the NLCS unit.
BLM policies developed pursuant to P.L. 111-11 call for avoiding right-of-way grants (ROWs) within an NLCS unit "to the greatest extent possible." If a route outside the NLCS unit is feasible, it is preferred. If a ROW is granted, the policy states that it must protect "the values for which the components of the system [here, the NCA] were designated."
If it is determined through NEPA that the only viable route for a project is through the NLCS unit, then impacts must be mitigated.