Gateway South EIS Released

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Gateway South EIS Released

WYOMING — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released its proposed Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments (LUPAs) that analyses the effects of building the planned Gateway South Transmission Project to carry power from south-central Wyoming to central Utah. The project would upgrade transmission infrastructure and increase capacity along a route that largely follows an established energy corridor, parallels existing utility corridors and avoids sensitive areas, including sensitive habitat. The proposed project would also enhance power grid reliability.

PacifiCorp, doing business as Rocky Mountain Power, is proposing to build, operate and maintain the Gateway South Transmission Project, a 500-kilovolt, overhead with alternating transmission lines that would extend from Medicine Bow, in south-central Wyoming, to Mona, in central Utah. When completed, the project would provide the transmission infrastructure and capacity necessary to deliver up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity generated from renewable and thermal sources at planned facilities in Wyoming. If the project is approved, construction is projected to start in 2018.

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The Final EIS and Proposed LUPA released today were prepared consistent with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and provide an informed basis for decisions related to the design, construction, and management of the proposed transmission line.

“The EIS represents the culmination of a comprehensive planning process that involved the public, American Indian tribes and numerous cooperators at the federal, state, and local levels who analyzed options for a balance of uses in the project area,” said Mary Jo Rugwell, BLM Wyoming State Director. “The process complies fully with NEPA and other applicable legal requirements. BLM is committed to an open, active public participation program and we are greatly appreciative of the extensive engagement from American Indian tribes, federal and state agencies, state and local governments and many other interested parties to complete this Final EIS.”

The project is one of six major transmission initiatives BLM is working on to help unlock wind and solar resources that cannot be currently accessed due to lack of infrastructure to bring energy to the grid. Among those are the SunZia and Southline transmission projects in Arizona and New Mexico, which have the potential to add up to 4,000 megawatts of electrical capacity in the Southwest.  In addition, the BLM has five other transmission projects – Boardman to Hemingway, Gateway West, Trans-West Express, and Vantage to Pomona Heights – all anticipated to be completed in 2016.

The Gateway South project encompasses lands managed by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, American Indian tribes, various state agencies, municipalities and private individuals. About 51 miles (12 percent) of the BLM’s preferred alternative route are located in designated utility corridors and co-located with existing transmission lines for a distance of 116 miles (28 percent) of the total length. The proposed route crosses 231 miles (54%) of BLM-administered lands; 2 percent of U.S. Forest Service-administered lands; 1.6 miles (0.3%) of tribal lands; 48 miles (12 %) of state lands; and 135 miles (32 %) of private lands.

The BLM is the lead federal agency for preparing the EIS for this project under the National Environmental Policy Act, and is working with cooperating agencies in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. A Draft EIS was published for public review in February 2014. The Final EIS responds to the comments received on the Draft EIS and the agency preferred alternative by making clarifications and adjusting alternative route alignments. The Final EIS also includes the written and verbal comments received during the public review period on the Draft EIS and responses to substantive comments.

The release of the Final EIS for the proposed transmission line begins 30-day public protest period and associated 60-day governor’s consistency review period on the proposed land-use plan amendments (LUPA) associated with the project. The Final EIS includes proposed amendments of BLM land-use plans and U.S. Forest Service land and resource management plans. These federal agencies have integrated the land-use planning process with the NEPA analysis process for this project. The periods run from the date the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes its notice on the availability for the Final EIS, which will occur in coordination with this release on May 13, 2016.

Protests must be submitted in writing by Monday, June 13, 2016. To submit a protest via regular mail, send to BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, P.O. Box 71383, Washington, D.C. 20004-1383. Protests submitted via overnight mail should be sent to: BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, 20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM, Washington, D.C. 20003. The BLM will issue its ROD after any protests are resolved but no earlier than 60 days after the Final EIS is available.

The Final EIS and Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments are available for downloading from the BLM’s project website at this link, or on BLM’s ePlanning site.

Copies of the Final EIS and Proposed LUPAs are available for public inspection during business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, at the following locations:

  • BLM Wyoming State Office, Public Reading Room, 5353 Yellowstone Road, Cheyenne, Wyoming;
  • BLM Rawlins Field Office, 1300 North Third Street, Rawlins, Wyoming;
  • BLM Colorado State Office, Public Reading Room, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, Colorado;
  • BLM Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson Street, Craig, Colorado;
  • BLM White River Field Office, 220 East Market Street, Meeker, Colorado;
  • BLM Grand Junction Office, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, Colorado;
  • BLM Utah State Office, Public Reading Room, 440 West 200 South, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • BLM Fillmore Field Office, 95 East 500 North, Fillmore, Utah;
  • BLM Moab Field Office, 92 East Dogwood, Moab, Utah;
  • BLM Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah;
  • BLM, Salt Lake Field Office, 2370 South Decker Lake Boulevard, West Valley City, Utah;
  • BLM, Richfield Field Office, 150 East 900 North, Richfield, Utah;
  • BLM Vernal Field Office, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, Utah; and
  • Ashley National Forest Supervisor’s Office (Lead Forest Office), 355 North Vernal Avenue, Vernal, Utah.

Compact disc versions of the document are available by contacting Environmental Planning Group, Gateway South Project, ATTN: Chris Smith, 208 East 800 South, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111. Requests may also be made to: csmith@epgaz.com