The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that the public comment period for its solar programmatic environmental impact statement will close on March 1.
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 for six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. It is seeking comments regarding expanding its comprehensive solar planning to include five additional states: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
The BLM announced the public scoping period for the programmatic environmental impact statement for utility-scale solar energy planning in the Federal Register on December 8, 2022. In that official announcement, it said it would remain open for public comment for 15 days after the last public scoping meeting (which was held on February 14, 2023) and that the comment period will close tomorrow, 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 the substantial public interest in those areas).
The three virtual meetings are considered to have been well-attended: there were 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 said that it would consider the extent to which lands covered by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) might be included in the planning area for the current solar programmatic environmental impact statement effort. But after consideration, it chose not to include the area under the DRECP in the current effort.
In developing this “programmatic environmental impact statement”, the BLM says that it 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 the summer of 2023.
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.