Coordination of Federal Authorizations for Electric Transmission Facilities, 5383-5395 [2016-01641]

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 21 (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 5383-5395]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-01641]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 21 / Tuesday, February 2, 2016 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 5383]]



DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

10 CFR Part 900

RIN 1901-AB36


Coordination of Federal Authorizations for Electric Transmission 
Facilities

AGENCY: Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, 
Department of Energy.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE) proposes to amend its 
regulations for the timely coordination of Federal Authorizations for 
proposed interstate electric transmission facilities pursuant to 
section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act (FPA). The proposed amendments 
are intended to improve the pre-application procedures and result in 
more efficient processing of applications.

DATES: Public comment on this proposed rule will be accepted until 
April 4, 2016. DOE will hold a public workshop and will announce the 
date, time and location in a subsequent notice.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by RIN 1901-AB36, by any 
of the following methods:
    1. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
    2. Send email to oeregs@hq.doe.gov. Include RIN 1901-AB36 in the 
subject line of the email. Please include the full body of your 
comments in the text of the message or as an attachment.
    3. Address postal mail to U.S. Department of Energy, Office of 
Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Mailstop OE-20, Room 8G-
017, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585.
    Due to potential delays in the delivery of postal mail, we 
encourage respondents to submit comments electronically to ensure 
timely receipt.
    This notice of proposed rulemaking and any comments that DOE 
receives will be made available on the DOE Web site at http://energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/improving. You may request a 
hardcopy of the workshop transcript or comments be sent to you via 
postal mail by contacting the DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and 
Energy Reliability.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie A. Smith, Ph.D. with the U.S. 
Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy 
Reliability, Mailstop OE-20, Room 8G-017, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20585; or oeregs@hq.doe.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Acronyms and Abbreviations. A number of 
acronyms and abbreviations are used in this preamble. While this may 
not be an exhaustive list, to ease the reading of this preamble and for 
reference purposes, the following terms, acronyms, and abbreviations 
are defined as follows:

CEQ Council on Environmental Quality
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
DOE Department of Energy
EIS Environmental Impact Statement
E.O. Executive Order
EPAct Energy Policy Act of 2005
FERC Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FPA Federal Power Act
FR Federal Register
IIP Integrated Interagency Pre-Application
MOU Memorandum of Understanding
NEPA National Environmental Policy Act
OMB Office of Management and Budget
PM Presidential Memorandum
PMA Federal Power Marketing Administration
RFI Request for Information
RRTT Rapid Response Team for Transmission
RTO Regional Transmission Operators

I. Background
II. Discussion of Proposed Rule
    A. General
    B. Applicability
    C. Definitions
    D. Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process
    E. Selection of NEPA Lead Agency
    F. IIP Process Administrative File
III. Regulatory Review
    A. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563
    B. National Environmental Policy Act
    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    D. Paperwork Reduction Act
    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
    F. Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999
    G. Executive Order 13132
    H. Executive Order 12988
    I. Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001
    J. Executive Order 13211
IV. Approval of the Office of the Secretary

I. Background

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-58) (EPAct) established 
a national policy to enhance and, to the extent possible, increase the 
coordination and communication among Federal agencies with authority to 
site electric transmission facilities. The policies set forth by 
Congress in EPAct reinforced policies announced in E.O. 13212, Actions 
to Expedite Energy-Related Projects (66 FR 28357, May 22, 2001) by 
mandating each agency with the authority to issue Federal 
authorizations to ensure the timely and coordinated review and 
permitting of electric transmission facilities. Section 1221(a) of 
EPAct added a new section 216(h) to the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 
791-828c) (FPA), which sets forth provisions relevant to the siting of 
interstate electric transmission facilities. Section 216(h) of the FPA 
(16 U.S.C. 824p(h)), ``Coordination of Federal Authorizations for 
Transmission Facilities,'' provides for DOE to coordinate all Federal 
authorizations and related environmental reviews needed for siting 
interstate electric transmission projects, including National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) reviews.
    Section 216(h) of the FPA provides for the coordination of Federal 
transmission siting determinations for project proponents seeking 
permits, special use authorizations, certifications, opinions, or other 
approvals required under Federal law to site an electric transmission 
facility. Section 216(h)(3) requires the Secretary, to the maximum 
extent practicable under Federal law, to coordinate the Federal 
authorization and review process with any Indian tribes, multi-state 
entities, and state agencies that have their own separate permitting 
and environmental reviews. Section 216(h)(4)(C) further requires that 
DOE establish an expeditious pre-application mechanism to allow project 
proponents to confer with Federal agencies involved, and for each such 
agency to communicate to the proponent any information needs relevant 
to a prospective application and key issues of concern to the

[[Page 5384]]

agencies and public. The DOE proposes to amend its existing regulations 
to implement the Integrated Interagency Pre-application (IIP) process 
described in section II.
    On September 19, 2008, DOE published an interim final rule 
establishing procedures under which prospective applicants may request 
that DOE coordinate interstate electric transmission facilities and 
related environmental reviews pursuant to FPA section 216(h) (73 FR 
54456). The interim final rule became effective on October 20, 2008, 
and the regulations can be found at 10 CFR 900.1 through 900.6. Also on 
September 19, 2008, DOE published a notice of proposed rulemaking 
(NOPR), which proposed amendments to the interim final rule (73 FR 
54461) that was intended to amend the interim final rule. Comments were 
filed in response to the 2008 interim final rule and 2008 NOPR. DOE 
addressed the comments submitted in response to both the interim final 
rule and the 2008 NOPR in another NOPR issued on December 13, 2011 (76 
FR 77432).\1\
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    \1\ With the publication of this proposed rule, DOE withdraws a 
previously proposed rulemaking for the Coordination of Federal 
Authorizations for Electric Transmission Facilities in December 2011 
(76 FR 77432; Dec. 13, 2011). In that action, DOE proposed 
requirements for permitting entities to inform DOE of requests for 
authorizations, established a process by which prospective Project 
Proponents may request DOE's coordination under section 216(h) for 
Federal authorizations for interstate electric transmission 
facilities, provided for the selection of a Federal lead agency for 
the purposes of compiling a single environmental review document and 
consolidated administrative record for Qualifying Projects, as well 
as provided for the establishment of intermediate and final 
deadlines for the review of Federal authorization decisions, as well 
as established a date certain after which all permit decisions and 
related environmental reviews under all applicable Federal laws 
shall be completed in one year or as soon thereafter as permissible 
by law.
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    On October 23, 2009, DOE and eight other Federal agencies with 
permitting or other Federal authorization responsibility for the siting 
of electric transmission facilities entered into a ``Memorandum of 
Understanding Regarding Coordination in Federal Agency Review of 
Electric Transmission Facilities on Federal Land'' (2009 MOU). The 
signatories to the 2009 MOU were DOE, the Departments of Defense, 
Agriculture (USDA), the Interior (DOI), and Commerce, the Federal 
Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC), the Environmental Protection 
Agency (USEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and the 
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
    The purpose of the 2009 MOU is to establish a framework to improve 
coordination among project proponents, Federal agencies, states, and 
tribes involved in the siting and permitting process for electric 
transmission facilities on Federal lands. The MOU is intended to 
improve uniformity, consistency, and transparency by describing each 
entity's role and responsibilities when project proponents wish to 
build electric transmission facilities. Additionally, the MOU 
designates a ``Lead Agency'' serving as the single point-of-contact for 
coordinating all Federal environmental reviews necessary to site 
electric transmission facilities on Federal lands. In most instances, 
the Departments of Agriculture or Interior will be the Lead Agency, 
since they have jurisdiction over most of the Federal lands and right-
of-ways for proposed electric transmission facilities. Nothing in this 
proposed rule modifies this aspect of the MOU. The proposed 10 CFR 
900.5 would maintain the agreements reached in the MOU in the context 
of identifying and selecting a potential NEPA lead for environmental 
reviews once applications for Federal authorizations are received by 
Federal agencies.
    In October 2011, in an effort to improve the performance of Federal 
siting, permitting, and review processes for infrastructure 
development, the President created a Rapid Response Team for 
Transmission (RRTT), a collaborative effort involving nine executive 
departments and agencies that are signatories to the 2009 MOU. The RRTT 
is an interagency group working to improve the efficiency, 
effectiveness and predictability of transmission siting, permitting, 
and review processes, in part through increasing interagency 
coordination and transparency. Lessons learned through the RRTT have 
informed the Integrated Interagency Pre-application (IIP) process 
proposed in this proposed rule.
    On March 22, 2012, the President issued Executive Order 13604, 
``Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of 
Infrastructure Projects'' that directed all Federal executive 
departments and agencies to take all authorized steps, consistent with 
available resources, to execute Federal permitting and review processes 
with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring the health, safety, 
and security of communities and the environment while supporting 
economic growth. The E.O. emphasized early and active consultation with 
tribal, state, and local governments to avoid conflicts or duplication 
of effort, resolve concerns, and allow for concurrent rather than 
sequential reviews. The E.O. also noted that these elements must be 
integrated into project planning processes so that projects are 
designed to avoid, minimize or mitigate, to the extent practicable, 
adverse impacts on public health, security, historic properties and 
cultural resources, and the environment.
    On May 17, 2013, the President issued a memorandum on Modernizing 
Federal Infrastructure Review and Permitting Regulations, Policies, and 
Procedures to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, that 
discussed agency best practices identified as a result of E.O. 13604. 
These best practices include, but are not limited to: Early 
coordination among Federal agencies, as well as with tribal, state, and 
local governments; strategic outreach to stakeholders; project-planning 
processes and individual project designs that consider local and 
regional ecological planning goals; landscape- and watershed-level 
mitigation practices; sharing of scientific and environmental data in 
open-data formats to minimize redundancy, facilitate informed project 
planning, and identify data gaps early in the review and permitting 
process; and the application of best environmental and cultural 
practices as set forth in the governing statutes.
    On June 7, 2013, the President issued a memorandum on Transforming 
our Nation's Electric Grid Through Improved Siting, Permitting, and 
Review to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. Building on 
the work of the RRTT, that memorandum strongly affirms that robust 
collaboration among Federal, tribal, state, and local governments must 
be a critical component of the Administration's effort to improve the 
Federal siting, permitting, and review processes for transmission 
projects because a single project may cross multiple governmental 
jurisdictions over hundreds of miles. Section 4(a) of the memorandum 
directs that Member Agencies of the Steering Committee created under 
E.O. 13604 to develop an integrated, interagency pre-application 
process for significant onshore electric transmission projects 
requiring Federal approval. The process must be designed to: Promote 
predictability in Federal siting, permitting, and review processes; 
encourage early engagement, coordination, and collaboration of Federal, 
tribal, state, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, 
and the public; increase the use of integrated project planning early 
in the siting, permitting, and review processes; facilitate early 
identification of issues that could diminish the likelihood that 
projects will ultimately be permitted; promote early planning for 
integrated and

[[Page 5385]]

strategic mitigation plans; expedite siting, permitting, and review 
processes through a mutual understanding of the needs of all affected 
Federal agencies and tribal, state, and local governments; and improve 
environmental and cultural resource outcomes.
    On August 29, 2013, DOE published a Request for Information (RFI) 
seeking information on a new draft IIP Process for significant onshore 
electric transmission projects requiring Federal authorizations 
developed by the RRTT. The proposed IIP Process presented in the RFI 
consisted of a series of four (4) iterative meetings, with direct 
federal involvement throughout the entire development of a transmission 
line project--from the identification of two substation endpoints 
(study area), to the selection of study corridors within a study area, 
and through identification of route alternative(s) within those study 
corridors. In response to comments received from the public, Federal 
agencies, state agencies, environmental groups, and industry 
representatives,\2\ DOE proposes a revised simplified IIP Process that 
consists of two (2) meetings that focus on projects in which study 
corridors and route alternatives are already under development. The IIP 
Process is discussed in section II of this proposed rule.
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    \2\ Comments received in response to the 2013 RFI may be 
accessed at: http://energy.gov/oe/downloads/comments-request-information-improving-performance-Federal-permitting-and-review.
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II. Discussion of Proposed Rule

A. General

    10 CFR 900.1 states the purpose of the regulations, which is to 
provide a process for the timely coordination of Federal authorizations 
for proposed transmission facilities pursuant to section 216(h) of the 
FPA (16 U.S.C. 824p(h)), including the development of an early pre-
application process in support of this coordination and the selection 
of a NEPA lead agency. These proposed regulations provide a framework 
for DOE to coordinate early cooperation and exchange of environmental 
information. These proposed regulations provide a framework for DOE to 
facilitate early cooperation and exchange of environmental information 
required to site qualified electric transmission facilities. These 
activities would occur prior to an applicant filing a request for 
authorization with Federal permitting agencies. The proposed 
regulations also provide an opportunity for non-Federal agencies 
(tribal, state, or local governments) to coordinate separate non-
Federal permitting and environmental reviews with that of the Federal 
permitting agencies.

B. Applicability

    Section 900.2 of the proposed rule explains when the provisions of 
part 900 would apply to the coordination of Federal authorizations. The 
provisions of part 900, which are consistent with DOE's existing 
regulations and the 2009 MOU, would apply to Qualifying Projects, and 
would also apply to Other Projects at the discretion of the Assistant 
Secretary of DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy 
Reliability (OE-1). Both types of projects must be for transmission 
facilities that are used for the transmission of electric energy in 
interstate commerce, but Qualifying Projects are generally 230 kV or 
above and cross jurisdictions administered by more than one Federal 
Entity or MOU Signatory Agency.
    Further, there would be no coordination role for DOE for Federal 
authorizations for electric transmission facilities located within the 
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) interconnection because 
section 216(k) of the FPA states that section 216 of the FPA shall not 
apply within the ERCOT area (16 U.S.C. 824p(k)). Section 900.2 also 
provides that section 216(h) does not apply when an application has 
been submitted to FERC for issuance of a permit for construction or 
modification of a transmission facility, or a pre-filing procedure has 
been initiated, under section 216(b) of the FPA (16 U.S.C. 824p(b)) 
(transmission lines within a DOE-designated National Interest Electric 
Transmission Corridor). In those circumstances, DOE has delegated its 
section 216(h) coordination authority to FERC and, in Order No. 689,\3\ 
FERC adopted regulations setting forth the procedures it will follow in 
such circumstances.
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    \3\ Department of Energy Delegation Order No. 00-004-00A, sec. 
1.22, issued May 16. 2006.
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    Section 900.2 also provides that this part does not apply to 
transmission lines that cross the U.S. international border, Federal 
submerged lands, national marine sanctuaries, marine national 
monuments, or facilities constructed by Federal Power Marketing 
Administrations (PMAs).\4\ Section 216(h) does not affect any 
requirements of U.S. environmental laws, and in the above mentioned 
cases, does not waive any requirements to obtain necessary Federal 
authorizations for electric transmission facilities.
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    \4\ DOE does not consider applications to the PMAs for 
transmission interconnections to be Federal authorization requests 
within the meaning of 216(h).
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C. Definitions

    Section 900.3 defines terms for this part.

D. Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process

    Section 900.4 provides the procedures and information requirements 
of the proposed IIP Process. This section sets forth a proposed 
framework for implementing the proposed IIP Process, provisions for how 
DOE would fulfill its section 216(h) Lead Coordinating Agency role as 
defined in Sec.  900.2 of this part, provisions describing expected 
outcomes of each IIP Initial Meeting and IIP Close-Out Meeting, and 
provisions describing the nature and purpose of products generated 
during the IIP Process (e.g., Final IIP Environmental Report).
    For proponents of Qualifying Projects, participation in the IIP 
Process is voluntary. A Project Proponent initiates the IIP Process by 
submitting an Initiation Request as described in proposed Sec.  900.4. 
A Project Proponent may elect to request initiation of the IIP Process 
for a Qualifying Project or Other Project as defined in Sec.  900.2. 
The timing of the Initiation Request is determined by the Project 
Proponent.
    When a Project Proponent elects to utilize the IIP Process, DOE 
will require the active participation of the Project Proponent to 
ensure effective coordination covered in this part. Active 
participation includes providing project-related and environmental 
information required as part of the Initiation Request to DOE. DOE must 
determine that adequate information has been provided by the Project 
Proponent consistent with Sec.  900.4 before DOE will initiate its 
coordination function under this part.
    Information requested as part of the Initiation Request in this 
proposed rule retains many of the existing requirements contained in 
Sec.  900.5 ``Request for coordination' of the existing section 216(h) 
regulation (January 2011), and expands on some of those elements based 
on RRTT agency experience and information received in response to the 
August 2013 RFI (78 FR 53436). DOE will provide electronic access to a 
checklist, as well as other helpful information and publicly-available 
resources in a central electronic repository, as currently

[[Page 5386]]

provided for in Sec.  900.6(b) of the existing regulations at 10 CFR 
part 900.\5\
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    \5\ Electronic tools currently exist that may serve as a 
resource for the information required as a part of the IIP Process. 
For example, the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop 
(RAPID) Toolkit, an online tool that streamlines the challenge of 
siting and permitting transmission lines in the West. The RAPID 
Toolkit offers a single location for agencies, developers, and 
industry stakeholders to work together on electric energy 
transmission regulatory processes by using a wiki environment to 
collaborate on regulatory processes, permit guidance, regulations, 
contacts, and other relevant information. The RAPID Toolkit can be 
accessed at http://en.openei.org/wiki/RAPID.
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    DOE will notify and request participation by all Federal Entities 
in the IIP Process that have a potential authorization or consultation 
for a Qualifying Project after DOE has reviewed and determined that an 
Initiation Request meets the informational requirements of Sec.  
900.4(a) through (d). All Federal Entities notified by DOE as having a 
potential authorization or consultation required for the siting of a 
Qualifying Project will be expected to participate in the Initial 
Meeting and the Final Meeting, unless the notified agency clarifies in 
writing to DOE within seven (7) calendar days of notification that they 
do not have any involvement or have minimal involvement, along with the 
supporting rationale used by the notified agency for their non- or 
minimal involvement. \6\
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    \6\ Provided, however, that a Federal Entity whose permitting 
authority for the construction or modification of electric 
transmission facilities is limited to those facilities for which an 
application is filed under section 216(b) of the Federal Power Act 
may participate at its sole discretion.
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    DOE will schedule IIP meetings no less than thirty (30) calendar 
days from each other and only after Federal Entities are given notice 
of the need for their participation in the IIP Process. The 
notification described applies to both initiation and close-out of the 
IIP Process, in response to the Project Proponent's request for such 
meetings.
    The list of Federal Entities notified by DOE following its review 
of the Initiation Request as having a potential authorization or 
consultation required for the siting of a Qualified Project may be 
revised as necessary during the IIP Process based on information 
provided by the Project Proponent, the Federal Entity, and otherwise 
publicly-available information. DOE will oversee the IIP Process and 
coordinate the involvement of the Federal Entities as described below 
in Sec.  900.4 even though DOE is not responsible for issuing a Federal 
Authorization. DOE will provide Federal Entities and Non-Federal 
Entities access to all information received from the Project Proponent 
as a part of an Initiation Request determined by DOE to meet the 
information requirements of this part in Sec.  900.4, which will be 
coordinated through the use of the Office of Management and Budget's 
(OMB's) MAX electronic system (https://max.omb.gov/maxportal) 
throughout an IIP Process for a Qualifying Project.
    In-person attendance at IIP Process meetings by each Federal Entity 
will depend on the availability of resources or the authority to 
recover costs from Project Proponents. Currently, certain Federal 
Entities may recover costs only after an application has been 
submitted, and some Federal entities lack cost recovery authority 
altogether. Even in instances where cost recovery may be available, 
each Federal agency will make its own determination regarding its 
participation and use of resources. Each Federal agency will provide 
its rationale to DOE in writing when or if a determination is made that 
it may not be expeditious to use of staff time and funds to attend all 
or some meetings. To the extent allowed by law Federal Entities may 
seek cost recovery from the Project Proponents during the IIP Process. 
DOE will provide an opportunity for Federal and Non-Federal Entities to 
participate in IIP meetings by using teleconferencing and webinars.
    Coordinating the preparation of the Final IIP Resources Report 
document prepared by DOE and related administrative file will 
facilitate more efficient preparation of a single environmental review 
document that all agencies can strive to utilize to inform their 
relevant decision making. The Final IIP Resources Report is designed in 
terms of format and substance to be similar to an ``early corporate 
environmental assessment'' or typical applicant-generated environmental 
study in accordance with: (1) Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508); (2) CEQ 
guidance related to early consultation or engagement of Federal 
agencies with prospective applicants; and (3) NEPA's Forty Most Asked 
Questions related to the ability of agencies to authorize preparation 
of environmental assessments by applicants (46 FR 18026; March 23, 
1981, as amended). \7\ Such actions continue to be encouraged by CEQ as 
``they call for private, Federal and non-Federal entities to build 
environmental considerations into their own planning processes in a way 
that facilitates the application of NEPA and avoids delay.'' \8\
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    \7\ CEQ, NEPA's Forty Most Asked Questions (46 FR 18026; March 
23, 1981, as amended), Question 8 discusses ``early corporate 
environmental assessments''
    \8\ Id.
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    The Final IIP Resources Report will be included by DOE, along with 
all other support information, datasets, maps, figures, etc. collected 
as part of the IIP Process in an IIP Process Administrative File that 
would be provided to the NEPA Lead Agency to inform their environmental 
reviews once an application is filed. This information can, and should, 
also be used by other agencies on related decision making. DOE will 
maintain the IIP Process Administrative File for the duration of the 
IIP Process and until no later than thirty (30) calendar days after the 
IIP Close out Meeting has been convened.

E. Selection of NEPA Lead Agency

    Section 900.5 provides a mechanism for the identification and 
selection of a NEPA Lead Agency responsible for meeting Federal 
environmental review requirements \9\ for permitting interstate 
transmission lines across multiple Federal jurisdictions once 
applications are filed with permitting agencies. This section 
incorporates the terms and mechanisms provided for identification and 
determination of NEPA Lead Agency for transmission facilities proposed 
for siting on majority Federal lands as set forth in the 2009 MOU and 
in accordance with CEQ's NEPA regulations.
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    \9\ Each participating Federal Entity is responsible for meeting 
its own agency-specific requirements.
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F. IIP Process Administrative File

    Section 900.6 defines the contents of a consolidated IIP Process 
Administrative File intended to document IIP Process-related products 
and information. This new section replaces the existing Sec.  900.6. 
This section also describes the intent and process by which this file 
will be maintained by DOE as Lead 216(h) Agency in coordination with 
the Federal Entities for the duration of the IIP Process.

III. Regulatory Review

A. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    This regulatory action has been determined to be a ``significant 
regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, ``Regulatory Planning 
and Review,'' 58 FR 51735 (October 4, 1993). Accordingly, this action 
was subject to review under that Executive Order by the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and 
Budget.
    DOE has also reviewed this regulation pursuant to Executive Order 
13563,

[[Page 5387]]

issued on January 18, 2011 (76 FR 3281, Jan. 21, 2011). Executive Order 
13563 is supplemental to and explicitly reaffirms the principles, 
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in 
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, agencies are 
required by Executive Order 13563 to: (1) Propose or adopt a regulation 
only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs 
(recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify); 
(2) tailor regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking into account, 
among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of 
cumulative regulations; (3) select, in choosing among alternative 
regulatory approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits 
(including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, 
and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity); (4) to the 
extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than specifying 
the behavior or manner of compliance that regulated entities must 
adopt; and (5) identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including providing economic incentives to encourage the 
desired behavior, such as user fees or marketable permits, or providing 
information upon which choices can be made by the public.
    DOE concludes that this proposed rule is consistent with these 
principles. Specifically, this proposed rule sets forth voluntary 
procedures for DOE coordination of Federal Authorizations for the 
siting of interstate electric transmission facilities. As described in 
section III.C., therefore, the costs of the rule will impact Federal 
agencies. Among the benefits expected from this proposed rule, actions 
taken to coordinate information and agency communication before 
applications for Federal Authorizations are submitted to Federal 
agencies for review and consideration would help reduce application 
review and decision-making timelines. Because use of the proposed IIP 
Process is voluntary, DOE further expects that the Project Proponent 
requesting assistance has made the calculation that the request was in 
the best interests of the Project Proponent. The request would also 
help transmission developers determine the likelihood that they would 
successfully obtain permits, which is necessary to make their proposed 
project successful in the competitive, regional transmission planning 
processes.

B. National Environmental Policy Act

    DOE has determined that promulgation of these regulations fall into 
a class of actions that does not individually or cumulatively have a 
significant impact on the human environment as set forth under DOE's 
regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq). Specifically, this rulemaking is covered under 
the Categorical Exclusion found in the DOE's National Environmental 
Policy Act regulations at paragraph A6 of Appendix A to Subpart D, 10 
CFR part 1021, which applies to Rulemakings that are strictly 
procedural. Accordingly, neither an environmental assessment nor an 
environmental impact statement is required.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires 
preparation of an initial regulatory flexibility analysis for any rule 
that by law must be proposed for public comment, unless the agency 
certifies that the rule, if promulgated, will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As required 
by Executive Order 13272, ``Proper Consideration of Small Entities in 
Agency Rulemaking,'' 67 FR 53461 (August 16, 2002), DOE published 
procedures and policies on February 19, 2003, to ensure that the 
potential impacts of its rules on small entities are properly 
considered during the rulemaking process (68 FR 7990). DOE has made its 
procedures and policies available on the Office of General Counsel's 
Web site: http://www.gc.doe.gov.
    DOE has reviewed this proposed rule under the provisions of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act and the procedures and policies published on 
February 19, 2003. This proposed rule sets forth simplified or revised 
procedures for DOE coordination of Federal Authorizations for the 
siting of interstate electric transmission facilities. As a result, the 
rule directly impacts Federal agencies and not small entities. In those 
cases where a Project Proponent requests DOE assistance for a project 
that is not a Qualifying Project, DOE expects that the provisions of 
this proposed rule, if adopted, would not affect the substantive 
interests of such Project Proponents, including any Project Proponents 
that are small entities. DOE expects actions taken under the proposed 
provisions to coordinate information and agency communication before 
applications for Federal Authorizations are submitted to Federal 
agencies for review and consideration would help reduce application 
review and decision-making timelines. Because use of the IIP Process 
set forth in the proposed rule is voluntary, DOE further expects that 
the Project Proponent requesting assistance has made the calculation 
that the request was in the best interests of the Project Proponent. 
The request would also help facilitate transmission developers with 
determining the likelihood that they would successfully obtain permits, 
which is necessary to make their proposed project successful in the 
competitive, regional transmission planning processes. On the basis of 
the foregoing, DOE certifies that this proposed rule would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Accordingly, DOE has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis for 
this rulemaking. DOE's certification and supporting statement of 
factual basis will be provided to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b).

D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The proposed rule contains information collection requirements 
subject to review and approval by OMB pursuant to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and the procedures 
implementing that Act, 5 CFR 1320.1 et seq. This requirement has been 
submitted to OMB for approval. Public reporting burden for requesting 
information during the pre-application process is estimated to average 
30 minutes per response. Public reporting burden for requesting DOE 
assistance in the Federal authorization process is estimated to average 
one hour per response. Both of these burden estimates include the time 
for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering 
and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection of information.
    DOE invites public comment on: (1) Whether the proposed information 
collection requirements are necessary for the performance of DOE's 
functions, including whether the information will have practical 
utility; (2) the accuracy of DOE's estimates of the burden of the 
proposed information collection requirements; (3) ways to enhance the 
quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and 
(4) ways to minimize the burden of the information collection 
requirements on respondents. Comments should be addressed to the DOE 
Desk Officer, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, 725 
17th Street NW.,

[[Page 5388]]

Washington, DC 20503. Persons submitting comments to OMB also are 
requested to send a copy to the contact person at the address given in 
the ADDRESSES section of this notice of proposed rulemaking. Interested 
persons may obtain a copy of the DOE's Paperwork Reduction Act 
Submission to OMB from the contact person named in this notice of 
proposed rulemaking.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty 
for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB Control Number.

E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) generally 
requires Federal agencies to examine closely the impacts of regulatory 
actions on tribal, state, and local governments. Subsection 101(5) of 
title I of that law defines a Federal intergovernmental mandate to 
include any regulation that would impose upon tribal, state, or local 
governments an enforceable duty, except a condition of Federal 
assistance or a duty arising from participating in a voluntary Federal 
program. Title II of that law requires each Federal agency to assess 
the effects of Federal regulatory actions on tribal, state, and local 
governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector, other than to 
the extent such actions merely incorporate requirements specifically 
set forth in a statute. Section 202 of that title requires a Federal 
agency to perform a detailed assessment of the anticipated costs and 
benefits of any rule that includes a Federal mandate which may result 
in costs to tribal, state, or local governments, or to the private 
sector, of $100 million or more in any one year (adjusted annually for 
inflation). 2 U.S.C. 1532(a) and (b). Section 204 of that title 
requires each agency that proposes a rule containing a significant 
Federal intergovernmental mandate to develop an effective process for 
obtaining meaningful and timely input from elected officers of tribal, 
state, and local governments. 2 U.S.C. 1534.
    This proposed rule would revise procedures for an Integrated 
Interagency Pre-application process by which transmission developers, 
Federal, state, local agencies and tribes may coordinate early either 
in person or via teleconference/web conference and share information 
through the existing Office of Management and Budget MAX Web site 
collaborative tool. DOE has determined that the proposed rule would not 
result in the expenditure by tribal, state, and local governments in 
the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any 
one year. Accordingly, no assessment or analysis is required under the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

F. Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999

    Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations 
Act, 1999 (Pub. L. 105-277) requires Federal agencies to issue a Family 
Policymaking Assessment for any proposed rule that may affect family 
well being. The proposed rule would not have any impact on the autonomy 
or integrity of the family as an institution. Accordingly, DOE has 
concluded that it is not necessary to prepare a Family Policymaking 
Assessment.

G. Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132, ``Federalism,'' 64 FR 43255 (August 4, 1999) 
imposes certain requirements on agencies formulating and implementing 
policies or regulations that preempt state law or that have Federalism 
implications. Agencies are required to examine the constitutional and 
statutory authority supporting any action that would limit the 
policymaking discretion of the states and carefully assess the 
necessity for such actions. DOE has examined this proposed rule and has 
determined that it would not preempt state law and would not have a 
substantial direct effect on the states, on the relationship between 
the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. No further 
action is required by Executive Order 13132.

H. Executive Order 12988

    With respect to the review of existing regulations and the 
promulgation of new regulations, section 3(a) of Executive Order 12988, 
``Civil Justice Reform,'' 61 FR 4729 (February 7, 1996), imposes on 
Executive agencies the general duty to adhere to the following 
requirements: (1) Eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity; (2) write 
regulations to minimize litigation; and (3) provide a clear legal 
standard for affected conduct rather than a general standard and 
promote simplification and burden reduction. With regard to the review 
required by section 3(a), section 3(b) of Executive Order 12988 
specifically requires that Executive agencies make every reasonable 
effort to ensure that the regulation: (1) Clearly specifies the 
preemptive effect, if any; (2) clearly specifies any effect on existing 
Federal law or regulation; (3) provides a clear legal standard for 
affected conduct while promoting simplification and burden reduction; 
(4) specifies the retroactive effect, if any; (5) adequately defines 
key terms; and (6) addresses other important issues affecting clarity 
and general draftsmanship under any guidelines issued by the Attorney 
General. Section 3(c) of Executive Order 12988 requires Executive 
agencies to review regulations in light of applicable standards in 
section 3(a) and section 3(b) to determine whether they are met or it 
is unreasonable to meet one or more of them. DOE has completed the 
required review and determined that, to the extent permitted by law, 
the proposed rule meets the relevant standards of Executive Order 
12988.

I. Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001

    The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 
U.S.C. 3516 note) provides for agencies to review most disseminations 
of information to the public under guidelines established by each 
agency pursuant to general guidelines issued by OMB.
    OMB's guidelines were published at 67 FR 8452 (February 22, 2002), 
and DOE's guidelines were published at 67 FR 62446 (October 7, 2002). 
DOE has reviewed this proposed rule under the OMB and DOE guidelines 
and has concluded that it is consistent with applicable policies in 
those guidelines.

J. Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211, ``Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use,'' 66 FR 28355 
(May 22, 2001) requires Federal agencies to prepare and submit to the 
OMB, a Statement of Energy Effects for any proposed significant energy 
action. A ``significant energy action'' is defined as any action by an 
agency that promulgated or is expected to lead to promulgation of a 
final rule, and that: (1) Is a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866, or any successor order; and (2) is likely to 
have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use 
of energy, or (3) is designated by the Administrator of OIRA as a 
significant energy action. For any proposed significant energy action, 
the agency must give a detailed statement of any adverse effects on 
energy supply, distribution, or use should the proposal be implemented, 
and of reasonable alternatives to the action and their expected 
benefits on

[[Page 5389]]

energy supply, distribution, and use. This regulatory action, which is 
intended to improve the pre-application procedures for certain 
transmission projects and therefore result in the more efficient 
processing of applications, would not have a significant adverse effect 
on the supply, distribution, or use of energy and is therefore not a 
significant energy action. Accordingly, DOE has not prepared a 
Statement of Energy Effects.

IV. Approval of the Office of the Secretary

    The Secretary of Energy has approved the publication of this 
proposed rule.

List of Subjects in 10 CFR Part 900

    Electric power, Electric utilities, Energy, Reporting and record 
keeping requirements.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2016.
Patricia A. Hoffman,
Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy 
Reliability.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, DOE proposes to revise part 
900 of chapter II of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations as set forth 
below:

PART 900--COORDINATION OF FEDERAL AUTHORIZATIONS FOR ELECTRIC 
TRANSMISSION FACILITIES

Sec.
900.1 Purpose.
900.2 Applicability.
900.3 Definitions.
900.4 Integrated interagency pre-application (IIP) process.
900.5 Selection of NEPA lead agency.
900.6 IIP Process administrative file.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 824p(h).


Sec.  900.1  Purpose.

    This part provides a process for the timely coordination of 
information needed for Federal authorizations for proposed electric 
transmission facilities pursuant to section 216(h) of the Federal Power 
Act (FPA) (16 U.S.C. 824p(h)). This part seeks to ensure electric 
transmission projects are consistent with the nation's environmental 
laws, including laws that protect endangered and threatened species, 
critical habitats and historic properties. This part provides a 
framework called the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) 
process by which DOE cooperates with applicable Federal and non-Federal 
entities for the purpose of early coordination of information for 
permitting and environmental reviews required under Federal law to site 
qualified electric transmission facilities prior to submission of 
required Federal request(s). The IIP process provides for timely and 
focused pre-application meetings with key Federal and non-Federal 
entities, as well as for early identification of potential siting 
constraints or opportunities, and seeks to promote thorough and 
consistent stakeholder outreach by a project proponent during 
transmission line planning efforts. The IIP process occurs before any 
application or request for authorization is submitted to Federal 
entities. This part improves the siting process by facilitating the 
early submission, compilation, and documentation of information needed 
for subsequent coordinated, transparent environmental review of a 
Qualifying Project or approved Other Project by Federal entities under 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) following the submission 
of an application or request for authorization. This part also provides 
an opportunity for non-Federal entities to coordinate their non-Federal 
permitting and environmental reviews with that of the Federal entities.


Sec.  900.2  Applicability.

    (a) The regulations under this part apply to Qualifying Projects. 
At the discretion of the Assistant Secretary (OE-1) the provisions of 
part 900 may also apply to Other Projects.
    (b) Other Projects. (1) Persons seeking DOE assistance in the 
Federal Authorization process for Other Projects must file a request 
for coordination with the OE-1. The request must contain:
    (i) The legal name of the requester; its principal place of 
business; whether the requester is an individual, partnership, 
corporation, or other entity; citations to the state laws under which 
the requester is organized or authorized; and the name, title, and 
mailing address of the person or persons to whom communications 
concerning the request for coordination are to be addressed;
    (ii) A concise general description of the proposed Other Project 
sufficient to explain its scope and purpose;
    (iii) A list of all potential Federal entities; and
    (iv) A list of anticipated non-Federal entities, including any 
agency serial or docket numbers for pending applications.
    (2) Within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving this request, the 
OE-1, in consultation with the affected Federal Entities with 
jurisdiction, will determine if the Other Project should be treated as 
a Qualifying Project under this part and will notify the Project 
Proponent of one of the following:
    (i) If accepted for processing under this rule, the project will be 
treated as a Qualifying Project and the Project Proponent must submit 
an Initiation Request as set forth under Sec.  900.5; or
    (ii) If not accepted for processing under this rule, the Project 
Proponent must follow the standard procedures for Federal Entities that 
will have jurisdiction over the project.
    (c) This part does not apply to Federal Authorizations for electric 
transmission facilities wholly located within the Electric Reliability 
Council of Texas interconnection.
    (d) This part does not apply to electric transmission facilities in 
a DOE-designated National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor where 
a Project Proponent seeks a construction or modification permit from 
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under section 216(b) of 
the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824p(b)).
    (e) This part does not affect any requirements of Federal law. 
Participation or non-participation in the IIP process does not waive 
any requirements to obtain necessary Federal authorizations for 
electric transmission facilities. This part shall not alter or diminish 
any responsibilities of the Federal entities to consult under 
applicable law.
    (f) This part does not supplant but rather complements the Federal 
entities' pre-application procedures for a Federal authorization. 
Participation in the IIP Process does not guarantee issuance of any 
required Federal authorization for a proposed Qualifying Project or 
selection of the project proponent's proposed study corridors and 
proposed routes as a range of reasonable alternatives or the preferred 
alternative for NEPA purposes.
    (g) DOE, in exercising its responsibilities under this part, will 
communicate regularly with the FERC, electric reliability organizations 
and electric transmission organizations approved by FERC, other Federal 
entities, and Project Proponents. DOE will use information technologies 
to provide opportunities for Federal entities to participate remotely.
    (h) DOE, in exercising its responsibilities under this part, will 
to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with Federal law, 
coordinate the IIP Process with any non-Federal entities. DOE will use 
information technologies to provide opportunities for non-Federal 
entities to participate remotely.


Sec.  900.3  Definitions.

    As used in this part:
    Affected landowner means an owner of real property interests who is 
usually referenced in the most recent county or

[[Page 5390]]

city tax records, and whose real property:
    (1) Is located within either 0.25 miles of a proposed centerline of 
a Qualifying Project or at a minimum distance specified by state law, 
whichever is greater; or
    (2) Contains a residence within 3000 feet of a proposed 
construction work area for a Qualifying Project.
    DOE means the United States Department of Energy.
    Early identification of project issues refers to an early and open 
stakeholder participation process carried out by a project proponent to 
identify potential environmental issues Federal and non-Federal 
entities' may consider for further study, issues of concern to the 
affected public and stakeholders, and potential project alternatives.
    Federal authorization means any authorization required under 
Federal law to site an electric transmission facility, including 
permits, rights-of-way, special use authorizations, certifications, 
opinions, or other approvals. This term includes those authorizations 
that may involve determinations under Federal law by either Federal or 
non-Federal entities.
    Federal entity means any Federal agency with jurisdictional 
interests that may have an effect on a proposed Qualifying Project, 
that is responsible for issuing a Federal authorization for the 
proposed Qualifying Project or attendant facilities, has relevant 
expertise with respect to environmental and other issues pertinent to 
or that are potentially affected by the proposed Qualifying Project or 
its attendant facilities, or provides funding for the proposed 
Qualifying Project or its attendant facilities. Federal entities 
include those with either permitting or non-permitting authority; for 
example, those entities with which consultation or review must be 
completed before a project may commence, such as the Department of 
Defense for an examination of military test, training or operational 
impacts.
    FPA means the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 791 through 828c).
    IIP Process Administrative File means the information assembled and 
maintained by DOE as the Lead 216(h) Agency and the NEPA Lead Agency 
for all Federal authorization decisions. The IIP Process Administrative 
File will include, without limitation, the IIP Initiation Request, 
which includes a summary of Qualifying Project, Affected Environmental 
Resources and Impacts summary, associated maps, geospatial information, 
and data (provided in electronic format), and a summary of Early 
Identification of Project Issues, IIP meeting summaries, and other 
documents, including but not limited to maps, publicly-available data, 
and other supporting documentation submitted by the project proponent 
as part of the IIP Process, and that inform the Federal entities.
    IIP Resource Report means the resource summary information provided 
by the Project Proponent as a part of the IIP process that meets the 
content requirements pursuant to Sec.  900.4. The IIP Resource Report 
contains the environmental information used by a Project Proponent to 
plan a Qualifying Project.
    Indian tribe has the same meaning as provided for in 25 U.S.C. 
450b(e).
    Lead 216(h) Agency means the Department of Energy, which section 
216(h) of the FPA (16 U.S.C. 824p(h)) makes responsible for timely 
coordination of Federal authorization requests for proposed electric 
transmission facilities.
    MOU signatory agency means a signatory of the interagency MOU 
executed on October 23, 2009, entitled, ``Memorandum of Understanding 
among the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA), the 
Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of 
Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
(FERC), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and 
Department of the Interior (DOI), regarding Coordination in Federal 
Agency Review of Electric Transmission Facilities on Federal Lands.''
    MOU principals means the heads of each of the MOU signatory 
agencies.
    NEPA means the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.)
    NEPA Lead Agency means the Federal agency or agencies preparing or 
having primary responsibility for preparing an environmental impact 
statement or environmental assessment as defined in 40 CFR 1508.16 and 
in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.5(c).
    Non-Federal entity means an Indian tribe, multistate governmental 
entity, or state and local government agency with relevant expertise 
and/or jurisdiction within the project area, that is responsible for 
conducting permitting and environmental reviews of the proposed 
Qualifying Project or its attendant facilities, that has special 
expertise with respect to environmental and other issues pertinent to 
or that are potentially affected by the proposed Qualifying Project or 
its attendant facilities, or provides funding for the proposed 
Qualifying Project or its attendant facilities. Non-Federal entities 
may include those with either permitting or non-permitting authority, 
e.g., entities such as State Historic Preservation Offices, with whom 
consultation must be completed in accordance with section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, 54 U.S.C. 306108, before a project 
can commence.
    OE-1 means the Assistant Secretary for DOE's Office of Electricity 
Delivery and Energy Reliability.
    Other Projects mean electric transmission facilities that are not 
Qualifying Projects. Other Projects include facilities for the 
transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for the sale of 
electric energy at wholesale, but do not need to meet the 230 kV or 
above qualification, or be otherwise identified as regionally or 
nationally significant with attendant facilities, in which all or part 
of a proposed transmission line crosses jurisdictions administered by 
more than one Federal entity.
    Project area means the geographic area considered when the project 
proponent develops study corridors and then potential routes for 
environmental review and potential project siting as a part of the 
project proponent's planning process for a Qualifying Project. It is an 
area located between the two end points of the project (e.g., 
substations), including their immediate surroundings within at least 
one-mile of that area, and over any proposed intermediate substations. 
The size of the project area should be sufficient to allow for the 
evaluation of various potential alternative routes with differing 
environmental, engineering, and regulatory constraints. Note that the 
project area does not necessarily coincide with ``permit area,'' ``area 
of potential effect,'' ``action area,'' or other defined terms of art 
that are specific to types of regulatory review.
    Project Proponent means a person or entity who initiates the IIP 
Process in anticipation of seeking Federal authorizations for a 
Qualifying Project or Other Project.
    Qualifying Project means--
    (1) A non-marine high voltage electric transmission line (230 kV or 
above) and its attendant facilities or other regionally or nationally 
significant non-marine electric transmission line and its attendant 
facilities, in which:
    (i) All or part of the proposed electric transmission line is used 
for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for sale 
at wholesale; and

[[Page 5391]]

    (ii) All or part of the proposed electric transmission line crosses 
jurisdictions administered by more than one Federal entity or crosses 
jurisdictions administered by a Federal entity and is considered for 
Federal financial assistance from a Federal entity.
    (2) Qualifying Projects do not include those for which a project 
proponent seeks a construction or modification permit from the FERC for 
electric transmission facilities in a DOE-designated National Interest 
Electric Transmission Corridor under section 216(b) of the FPA (16 
U.S.C.824p(b)).
    Regional mitigation approach means an approach that applies the 
mitigation hierarchy (first seeking to avoid, then minimize impacts, 
then, when necessary, compensate for residual impacts) when developing 
mitigation measures for impacts to resources from Qualifying Projects 
at scales relevant to the resource, however narrow or broad, necessary 
to sustain, or otherwise achieve established goals for those resources. 
The approach identifies the needs and baseline conditions of targeted 
resources, potential impacts from the Qualifying Projects, cumulative 
impacts of past and likely projected disturbance to those resources, 
and future disturbance trends. The approach then uses such information 
to identify priorities for avoidance, minimization, and compensatory 
mitigation measures across that relevant area to provide the maximum 
benefit to the impacted resources.
    Regional mitigation strategies or plans mean documents developed 
through or external to, the NEPA process that apply a regional 
mitigation approach to identify appropriate mitigation measures in 
advance of potential impacts to resources from Qualifying Projects.
    Route means a linear area within which a Qualifying Project could 
be sited. It should be wide enough to allow minor adjustments in the 
alignment of the Qualifying Project so as to avoid sensitive features 
or accommodate potential engineering constraints but narrow enough to 
allow detailed study.
    Stakeholder means any non-Federal entity, any non-governmental 
organization, affected landowner, or other person potentially affected 
by a proposed Qualifying Project.
    Stakeholder outreach plan means a concise description and plan for 
how a project proponent coordinates stakeholder interface, 
communications, and involvement so as to provide information to and 
receive feedback from stakeholders as defined in this part as part of 
the development of a Qualifying Project and during the IIP Process. It 
directly informs and supports the development of the summary of early 
identification of project issues required as part of the initiation 
request pursuant to Sec.  900.5. The purpose of the stakeholder 
outreach plan is to ensure that a Project Proponent actively engages 
and receives feedback from stakeholders when the Project Proponent is 
evaluating potential study corridors or potential routes before and 
during the IIP Process.
    Study corridor means a contiguous area (but not to exceed one-mile) 
in width within the project area where alternative routes may be 
considered for further study.


Sec.  900.4  Integrated interagency pre-application (IIP) process.

    (a) The IIP Process is intended for a Project Proponent who has 
identified potential study corridors and/or potential routes within an 
established project area and the proposed locations of any intermediate 
substations for a Qualifying Project. The IIP Process is also intended 
to accommodate proposed Qualifying Projects that have been selected in 
a regional electric transmission plan for purposes of cost allocation 
or a similar process where an electric transmission plan has been 
identified and the permitting and siting phase must commence. While the 
IIP Process is optional, the early coordination provided by DOE between 
Federal entities, non-Federal entities, and the Project Proponent 
ensures that the Project Proponent fully understands application and 
permitting requirements, including data potentially necessary to 
s