Update: The BLM released the Record of Decision for segments 8 and 9 on January 19, 2017.
Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power filed applications with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 2007 for a right of way grant and special use permit, respectively, to construct, operate and maintain the Gateway West Transmission Line Project on federal lands. The BLM released its Record of Decision (ROD) on November 14, 2013, for segments 1 through 7 (Windstar to Populus, Populus to Midpoint and Populus to Cedar Hill) and segment 10 (Midpoint to Cedar Hill) of the project in Wyoming and eastern Idaho. It identifies the BLM authorized route on public land for these segments. The BLM postponed a decision on segments 8 (Midpoint to Hemingway) and 9 (Cedar Hill to Hemingway) and determined additional environmental review on these segments was needed. A draft supplemental EIS for segments 8 and 9 was released on March 11, 2016 and a final supplemental EIS was released on October 7, 2016. The BLM released its ROD for segments 8 and 9 on January 19, 2017.
The BLM is the lead federal agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is coordinating the preparation of the environmental analysis and related environmental laws with cooperating agencies. NEPA is a federal law that requires federal agencies to prepare a detailed statement of the effects of major federal actions that can significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
Under NEPA, the BLM prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and final EIS that analyzed and disclosed the effects of the proposed project and its alternatives. The draft EIS was published on July 29, 2011 and was followed by a public comment period.
The final EIS was released by the BLM on April 26, 2013, which was available for public review and comment through June 28, 2013. The BLM received 336 comments on the final EIS.
The BLM released a record of decision on November 14, 2013 for segments 1 through 7 (Windstar to Populus, Populus to Midpoint and Populus to Cedar Hill) and segment 10 (Midpoint to Cedar Hill) of the project, which identifies the BLM authorized route on public land. The decision on segments 8 (Midpoint to Hemingway) and 9 (Cedar Hill to Hemingway) was postponed by the BLM in order to resolve routing in this area.
The ROD is available on the BLM website at: www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/cfodocs/gateway_west/.
In August 2012, the BLM identified the federal agency preferred alternatives, with consideration toward which alternatives best fulfill the agency mission and responsibilities, as well as environmental, economic, social and other factors analyzed in the draft EIS. The agency preferred alternatives were chosen from the range of alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS, and selected after reviewing changes to proposed routes submitted by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power in February 2012. The ROD reflects the BLM’s preferred alternatives for segments 1 through 7 and segment 10.
The BLM postponed a final routing decision for segments 8 and 9 to resolve routing in these segments. Scoping for the supplemental EIS occurred in September and October 2014. A draft supplemental EIS was released on March 11, 2016, followed by a 90-day public comment period. The final supplemental EIS was released on October 7, 2016. The BLM released its ROD for segments 8 and 9 on January 19, 2017.
Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power continue to meet with various federal, state and local governmental agencies, local property owners and other interested parties. In December 2008, the companies held initial landowner meetings in communities along the corridor where attendees received information about the project, reviewed maps and provided valuable comments to Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power staff.
During 2008 and 2009, the project team hosted approximately 40 public meetings, in addition to participating in more than 150 formal and informal meetings at the request of stakeholders and interested parties. In total, company representatives met with almost 2,000 landowners and residents along the corridor in this period.
The public also has been invited by the BLM to participate throughout the NEPA process. In June 2008, the BLM invited the public to comment on the notice of intent and held scoping meetings in Idaho and Wyoming; these helped in determining issues and alternatives considered in the draft EIS. During September and October of 2011 the BLM invited the public to comment on the draft EIS and held 17 public open house meetings along the project corridor. In May 2013, the BLM held 13 public meetings following the release of the final EIS for Segments 1-7 and 10.
The BLM held four public meetings during scoping for the supplemental EIS for segments 8 and 9 and five additional public meetings following the release of the draft supplemental EIS.