Bureau of Land Management to begin NEPA process for the Bonanza Solar Project Application
The Bureau of Land Management has completed the variance process for the Bonanza Solar Project, a major early step in the application process for solar energy development that allows the BLM to fully consider the project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The BLM’s decision to advance the project to the next stage of review comes after close coordination with Tribal governments, appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, and public outreach.
The Bonanza Solar Project would generate 300 megawatts of energy on roughly 2,500 acres of BLM-managed public lands in Nye and Clark counties, Nevada. With the variance process complete, the BLM will work with project proponents and other stakeholders to analyze an application area of approximately 5,133 acres administered by the BLM, Southern Nevada District, and Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices. The application area is situated between U.S. Route 95 to the north, the community of Indian Springs to the east, and a utility corridor to the south.
“After careful consideration, the BLM will continue processing the application and proceed with initiation of the National Environmental Policy Act process. Stakeholder engagement efforts during the variance process identified potential concerns and we will use this information in our environmental review of the Bonanza Solar Project.” said Joseph Varner, acting Pahrump Field Office manager.
The BLM conducted an agency virtual meeting with Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments for the Bonanza Solar Project. The agency meeting was attended by 11 agencies and one Tribe.
BLM also hosted two virtual information forums in September 2022 to gather public input for the variance determination. The virtual information forums were attended by approximately 30 individuals and 20 comments were received via emails and letters during the input period., These meetings provided a description of the application evaluation process, including the variance process, information on the proposed Bonanza Solar Project, and the opportunity to ask questions and provide input.
The next step for the Bonanza Solar Project will be the publication of the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which begins the public scoping process and comment period under the NEPA process. Comments made during the initial evaluation will be further considered under that process.
Variance areas are BLM-administered lands in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and parts of California not covered by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Record of Decision, which are outside of solar energy zones and not otherwise excluded under the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision.
The BLM manages vast stretches of public lands that have the potential to make significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. To promote the development of these energy sources, the BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. The efficient deployment of renewable energy from our nation’s public lands is crucial in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.
Proceeding with processing the Bonanza Solar Project does not render project approval or otherwise entitle the applicant in any way, nor does it create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person. The variance determination and supporting documentation, including the summary on the public and agency input periods, and additional information for the Bonanza Solar Project can be found at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/admin/project/2020905/510
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.