ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW      

Update: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a environmental assessment (EA) for segments 8 and 9 on November 3, 2017, beginning a 30-day comment period.

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. On April 17, 2017, the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) remanded the January ROD back to the BLM Idaho State Office for reconsideration of the route alternatives. The BLM will complete an environmental assessment (EA) to reconsider the January 2017 decision. A notice of intent to prepare the EA was published on August 28, 2017, and began a 30-day scoping period. The BLM published a draft EA on November 3, 2017, beginning a 30-day public comment period. The BLM expects to issue a decision on the remaining portions of segments 8 and 9 in spring 2018. For more information on the EA process, visit the BLM project website.

National Environmental Policy Act

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.

BLM authorized route for segments 1 through 7 and 10

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 2013 ROD is available on the BLM website.

Supplemental environmental review for segments 8 and 9

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 an ititial ROD for segments 8 and 9 on January 19, 2017. On April 17, 2017, in response to a request from Idaho Governor Otter to the Secretary of the Interior, the IBLA remanded the January ROD back to the BLM Idaho State Office for reconsideration of the route alternatives.

The BLM published a notice of intent to prepare an EA for segments 8 and 9 on August 28, 2017, beginning a 30-day scoping period. The Fiscal Year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law May 5, 2017, included provisions from House Resolution 2104 to route the Gateway West transmission line through the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA). As a result, the EA will address only those alternatives from the supplemental EIS that feasibly connect with the route specified in HR 2104. The BLM published a draft EA for segments 8 and 9 on November 3, 2017, beginning a 30-day public comment period.

Public Participation History

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.