- What is the environmental review process for this project?
- What is the role of the Bureau of Land Management on the project?
- What is the role of the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Facility Siting Council?
- Why did Idaho Power submit a new Notice of Intent to the Oregon Department of Energy?
- Why did the BLM, USFS and ODOE host additional public scoping and information meetings in Grant and Harney counties when Idaho Power’s proposed route and alternatives do not go through the area?
- Will the comments submitted to Idaho Power during the Community Advisory Process be used by the BLM and USFS in their environmental review?
- If an alternative through Grant and Harney Counties is developed, would BLM and USFS need to start scoping over?
- Why are sage-grouse such an important consideration for the siting of this project?
- Will other routes besides the CAP-recommended proposed route be considered during the NEPA process?
- What would the length of the term be for the BLM and USFS right of way grants?
What is the environmental review process for this project?
The proposed route submitted by Idaho Power Company crosses federal lands administered by BLM and USFS. The decision to issue a right of way over federal lands for a major transmission line is considered a major federal action, and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BLM is the lead federal agency for the NEPA process and the development of the project EIS. Visit the NEPA Process page for more information.
The B2H Project is also undergoing review by the ODOE and EFSC. In this process, Idaho Power is applying to the state of Oregon to build the project. The Oregon energy facility siting process streamlines permitting for project decision-making by consolidating regulations of Oregon state and local agencies. EFSC will ultimately decide whether to approve or deny Idaho Power’s application to build this facility. ODOE is the state agency that provides technical support to EFSC. Visit the EFSC process page for more information.
What is the role of the Bureau of Land Management on the project?
BLM administers lands in Oregon and Idaho crossed by the proposed route, so the agency must authorize the construction, operation, maintenance and termination of the B2H Project through the issuance of a right of way authorization. This process involves the review of right of way application information provided by Idaho Power and compliance with applicable federal laws and regulations. The BLM must also decide if amendments to existing lands use plans are required and make a decision to amend those plans if necessary.
As part of the right of way review, the project is required to undergo the NEPA process. For this project, BLM is also the lead federal agency responsible for NEPA compliance and coordination with other federal and state environmental and permitting agencies.
The project EIS will evaluate the proposed action and a range of reasonable alternatives for potential effects to environmental, social and economic resources. While the EIS will assess potential impacts for the entire project regardless of land ownership, the federal right of way authorization would apply only to lands administered by the agency.
What is the role of the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Facility Siting Council?
ODOE is a state agency with a variety of divisions and departments, including the Energy Siting Division. ODOE is responsible for ensuring Oregon has an adequate supply of reliable and affordable energy and is safe from nuclear contamination. The Siting Division provides technical staff to the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) and administers the site certificate application process on its behalf. EFSC is a governor-appointed citizen council, confirmed by the Senate, which regulates all energy facilities in Oregon.
ODOE, working with other state agencies and local governments, will determine if Idaho Power's Application for an Energy Facility Site Certificate meets EFSC’s Energy Facility Siting Standards which were developed to protect natural resources and human health and safety. The siting standards are pass/fail and, should ODOE recommend approving Idaho Power's Application for an Energy Facility Site Certificate, EFSC will vote on whether to issue the Site Certificate. EFSC ultimately decides whether to approve or deny Idaho Power’s Application for an Energy Facility Site Certificate.
Visit ODOE-EFSC’s Agency Role and Responsibility pages for more information.
Why did Idaho Power submit a new Notice of Intent to the Oregon Department of Energy?
In July 2010, Idaho Power submitted a new Notice of Intent (NOI) to ODOE because its 2008 NOI would have expired in August 2010 and due to substantial changes in the B2H Project, including a new proposed route.
As such, comments from the 2008 NOI were considered no longer applicable. For this reason, ODOE requested the public submit new comments on Idaho Power’s 2010 proposal. ODOE issued a new Project Order in March 2012 to replace the one previously issued.
As with any NOI, Idaho Power’s current proposal is preliminary and subject to change based on feedback from ODOE, government agencies and the public.
Why did the BLM, USFS and ODOE host additional public scoping and information meetings in Grant and Harney counties when Idaho Power’s proposed route and alternatives do not go through the area?
The agencies hosted public meetings in Grant and Harney counties because of previous public interest and involvement in the B2H Project. Alternative routes through these counties may result from comments received during the 2008 and 2010 scoping periods. The NEPA process requires federal agencies to consider a range of reasonable alternatives. BLM and USFS wanted to keep these counties informed should an alternative route which crosses Grant or Harney counties be analyzed in the EIS.
Were the comments submitted to Idaho Power during the Community Advisory Process used by the BLM and USFS in their environmental review?
Letters or comment forms submitted directly to Idaho Power during the CAP process were shared with the BLM and USFS for inclusion in the federal record. CAP comments were also incorporated into the revised scoping report.
ODOE is unable to accept CAP comments since they are not specific to Idaho Power’s proposed route and alternatives documented in Idaho Power’s Notice of Intent to Submit an Application for Site Certificate.
If a new alternative goes through a new area, would BLM and USFS need to start scoping over?
No. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments on alternatives during the draft EIS comment period.
Why are Greater Sage-Grouse such an important consideration for the siting of this project?
The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a resident of sagebrush habitat that may be affected by the B2H Project. In 2010, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that Greater Sage-Grouse warrant protection and will be listed as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.
In addition, greater sage-grouse are designated as an Oregon "vulnerable sensitive species", and an Idaho "critically imperiled species." BLM also lists the greater sage-grouse as a "type 2 sensitive species" in Oregon and Idaho. USFWS, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), BLM and Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) are each working to maintain or enhance greater sage-grouse habitat. Visit Further Reading for links to the agencies greater sage-grouse resources.
As part of BLM and ODOE‘s review processes for the project, field surveys will be conducted to evaluate the presence of greater sage-grouse leks and habitat within the proposed transmission line corridor(s). BLM, in consultation with ODFW and IDFG, will document the potential impacts of the proposed transmission line on greater sage-grouse habitat in the project's draft EIS, which will be available for public review and comment. ODOE will also consult with ODFW to ensure that their habitat and mitigation standards have been met. If greater sage-grouse become listed as a federal threatened or endangered species, additional consultation with USFWS will be required.
Will other routes besides the CAP-recommended proposed route be considered during the NEPA process?
Routes other than those recommended through the CAP process may be analyzed in the NEPA process. As part of the NEPA process, the BLM and USFS must explore alternatives that meet the agencies’ purpose and need. In the case of the B2H Project, there are potentially a large number of alternatives. NEPA guidance recommends that the BLM and USFS analyze a range of reasonable alternatives covering the full spectrum of alternatives. "Reasonable" alternatives include those that are practical, as well as technically and economically feasible. Public input from the scoping process helps inform the federal agencies’ development of reasonable alternatives.
What would the length of the term be for the BLM and USFS right of way grants?
The duration of a federal right of way authorization is limited to a reasonable term in light of all circumstances concerning the B2H Project. Idaho Power has indicated in their revised SF-299 applications to BLM and USFS that the project lifespan is greater than 50 years.
Among other things, the federal agencies will consider the following factors in establishing a reasonable term:
- The cost of the facility.
- Its useful life.
- Any public purpose it serves.
A federal right of way authorization will also specify whether or not it is renewable and the terms and conditions applicable to the renewal.