The Bureau of Land Management announces end to public comment period for utility-scale solar review
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan to remain outside scope of current review
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced that the public comment period for its solar programmatic environmental impact statement will close March 1, 2023.
On December 5, 2022, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that the Bureau of Land Management would begin considering updates to its 2012 Western Solar Plan in six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—and is seeking comment regarding expanding its comprehensive solar planning to include five additional states: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
In the Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register on December 8, 2022, the BLM announced the public scoping period for the programmatic environmental impact statement for utility-scale solar energy planning would remain open for public comment for 15 days after the last public scoping meeting. The last public scoping meeting was held February 14, 2023, and the comment period will close March 1, 2023.
The BLM held three virtual and 12 in-person public scoping meetings to solicit initial input on the programmatic environmental impact statement effort, including a virtual meeting focused on southern California and Nevada added in response to substantial public interest in those areas. The three virtual meetings drew more than 547 registered participants and 99 submitted public comments. BLM received 74 comments overall through the in-person meetings held in Phoenix, Arizona; Sacramento, California; Grand Junction, Colorado; Washington, DC; Boise, Idaho; Billings, Montana; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Reno, Nevada; Bend, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Spokane, Washington; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
In the notice of intent, the BLM stated it would consider the extent to which lands covered by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) may be included in the planning area for the current solar programmatic environmental impact statement effort. After consideration, the BLM chose not to include the area under the DRECP in the current effort as the BLM continues to believe the DRECP supports an acceptable balance between conservation and renewable energy opportunities within its planning area boundary. Public comments received to date support this position.
In developing this programmatic environmental impact statement, the BLM will engage with cooperating agencies, consulting parties, and Tribes. Additionally, the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft programmatic environmental impact statement, which is planned for release in summer 2023.
Please visit https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022371/570 to submit comments online or to view presentations, handouts and transcripts for each of the 15 public scoping meetings. Emailed comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to Solar Energy PEIS Scoping, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240, and postmarked by March 1, 2023.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.