The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.
Because the project could have significant environmental effects, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been prepared consistent with NEPA. The EIS is needed to:
- Identify and disclose the potential effects of authorizing the proposed transmission line and to examine a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action.
- Evaluate consistency with federal land use plans.
- Determine the location and conditions that should be applied to the construction, operation and maintenance of the transmission line on federally-managed lands.
The NEPA process has several key milestones and public participation opportunities which are described in A Citizen's Guide to the NEPA [PDF, 931 KB] and outlined in the NEPA process diagram shown below.NEPA and the B2H Project
For the B2H Project, BLM is the lead federal agency responsible for NEPA compliance. The process began when Idaho Power submitted applications to the BLM and USFS to construct the transmission line across portions of federally-managed lands.
BLM and USFS initially launched the NEPA process with scoping meetings and a comment period in fall 2008. Comments received during the public scoping period were included in the Public Scoping Report. Following scoping, Idaho Power developed a new proposed route and alternative routes based on public input from its Community Advisory Process (CAP).
In summer 2010, Idaho Power submitted new routes and related documents to the federal agencies. The federal agencies re-opened scoping on Idaho Power’s revised proposed route in July 2010 and conducted additional public scoping meetings in August 2010. BLM compiled the comments received in 2010 and 2008, as well as those submitted through Idaho Power's CAP, and summarized them in the revised scoping report.
BLM has taken into consideration information from cooperating agencies, the public and Tribes to help identify issue areas and a range of reasonable alternatives for analysis, which are documented in the Final EIS. The federal agencies will use the analysis in the Final EIS, together with other requirements, to determine whether to approve or deny Idaho Power’s application for the project as well as identify mitigation measures.NEPA Process Diagram
BLM's Final EIS notice of availability period and planning protest process
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Final EIS for the project on Nov. 25, and the document is available for download. A 30-day notice of availability period on the Final EIS extended from Nov. 25 to Dec. 26, 2016. There was no formal comment period on the Final EIS. Any comments received may be addressed in the Record of Decision (ROD) if it is determined they identify significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bear upon the proposed action.
The BLM has integrated the land use planning process with the NEPA process for this project. A 30-day protest period on the proposed land use plan amendments concluded on Dec. 26, 2016. The BLM Director will render prompt decisions on every protest received during this period. Decisions will be sent by certified mail. Responses to protest issues will also be compiled in a Director’s Protest Resolution Report made available at the same time as decisions are mailed. A 60-day Governor’s Consistency Review Period on the Final EIS extends to Jan. 25, 2017. The BLM now expects to issue its Record of Decision for the project in the second quarter of 2017.
The BLM will issue its ROD after any protests are resolved but no earlier than 30 days after the Final EIS is available. The federal right of way authorization would apply only to lands administered by the BLM.
USFS objection filing period and process
The USFS will also issue a separate ROD for the project on the basis of the analysis in the Final EIS. USFS special use authorization would apply only to lands administered by the USFS. Because the USFS decision will apply to a small portion of the overall project area, the agency plans to release its draft ROD concurrent with, or shortly after, the release of BLM’s ROD.
The USFS previously notified the public that the agency would waive its administrative review procedures and adopt the BLM’s protest procedures for its decisions related to granting special use authorization on USFS land. Following further review, the USFS determined that it will instead engage in its own administrative review process.
This process will allow for pre-decisional review of the Final EIS and a draft ROD prepared by the USFS. A 45-day Objection Filing Period will begin when the USFS publishes a legal notice in the newspaper of record, the Baker City Herald. The USFS draft ROD will be available on the B2H website. Additional information on the USFS objection process and timeframes will be provided when the USFS’s draft ROD is released. For more information on the USFS process, download the Dear Reader letter from the Final EIS.
This website is the joint Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project site. While information contained on this site is approved for posting by the BLM, it is not the official BLM website. For more general BLM information, visit the BLM website.