- What is the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) role in the project?
- Who analyzes the effects of the proposed and alternate routes on the private landowners?
- What does the NEPA process look at in considering alternative routes?
For Gateway West, BLM is the lead agency responsible for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and has prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes and discloses the effects of the project and its alternatives. The BLM announced the availability of the draft EIS for public review and comment on July 29, 2011. In April 2013, the BLM released the final EIS, which was followed by the BLM’s record of decision for segments 1 through 7 (Windstar to Populus, Populus to Midpoint and Populus to Cedar Hill) and segment 10 (Midpoint to Cedar Hill) in November 2013. The BLM is deferring decision on segments 8 (Midpoint to Hemingway) and 9(Cedar Hill to Hemingway) until routing can be resolved in this area.
Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power began the permitting process for this project by filing an application to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for authorization to build, operate and maintain the proposed transmission lines on federal property. 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. The NEPA process studies possible environmental impacts of the line in the area.
The public was invited to participate in the NEPA scoping process and provide comments on the draft and final EISs. The public was notified of dates by notices published in the Federal Register (www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/), local newspapers, company and BLM websites, and by the project-specific mailing list.
Learn more about the environmental review process.
The EIS evaluates possible effects of the proposed Gateway West project and alternatives on federal, state, and private lands. However, this does not mean that the BLM or USFS can authorize actions on lands that are not administered by them.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations direct that an EIS “rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives, and for alternatives that were eliminated from detailed study, briefly discuss the reasons for their having been eliminated” (40CFR 1502.14(a)). “Reasonable alternatives include those that are practicable or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the applicant” (Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ’s NEPA Regulations, March 23, 1981).
The EIS looks at a variety of resources. Some examples include land, visual/aesthetic, cultural and historic resources, paleontology, biological resources, socioeconomics, noise, air quality, recreation, and soils.