Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the TransWest Express 600-kV Direct Current Transmission Project in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, and Prospective Draft Land Use Plan Amendments
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Western Area Power Administration (Western) announce the availability of the TransWest Express Transmission Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and draft Land Use Plan Amendments. The DEIS analyzes the consequences of granting a right-of-way (ROW) to TransWest Express, LLC (TransWest) to construct and operate an extra-high voltage (EHV) direct current (DC) transmission system (proposed Project). The Project would provide the transmission infrastructure and capacity to deliver approximately 3,000 megawatts of electric power from existing and future renewable and other energy sources in south-central Wyoming to a substation hub in southern Nevada. The Project would consist of an approximately 725-mile-long 600-kilovolt (kV), DC transmission line and two terminals, each containing an alternating current (AC)/DC converter station. The northern AC/DC converter station would be located near Sinclair, Wyoming, and the southern AC/DC converter station would be located near a group of substations in the Eldorado Valley called Marketplace Hub, approximately 25 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. A ground electrode system (required for transmission line emergency shutdown) would be installed within 100 miles of each terminal. The Project would retain an option for future interconnection with the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) transmission system in Millard County, Utah. The BLM, through consultation with other Federal, State, and local cooperating agencies, has included an Agency Preferred Alternative (APA) transmission route in the DEIS. The rationale for selecting the location of this alternative is described in the Supplementary Information section of this Notice of Availability (NOA). The following discussions of Project segment lengths across various land ownerships and jurisdictions are specific to the 760-mile- long APA. The requested ROW width would generally be 250 feet. As a general planning goal, the APA has been located parallel to existing transmission lines and other utilities, within the West-wide energy corridors designated pursuant to Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other federally designated utility corridors, unless precluded by resource or routing constraints or technical infeasibility. Approximately 230 miles (30 percent) of the APA is located within or adjacent to designated federal utility corridors. The APA is located in proximity and parallel to other utilities (transmission lines, pipelines, roads) over a distance of 447 miles (57 percent) of the total length. The lengths of the APA segments by Federal jurisdiction are: WyomingBLM Rawlins Field Office (78 miles). ColoradoBLM Little Snake, White River Field Offices (71 miles). UtahBLM Vernal, Price, Fillmore, Richfield, Cedar City Field Offices (212 miles); Bureau of Indian Affairs/Tribal (3 miles); and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Uinta, Manti-La-Sal, Fishlake, and Ashley National Forests (18 miles). NevadaBLM Caliente, Las Vegas Field Offices (129 miles) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) (6 miles). The APA transmission route would cross 58 miles of State land, and 127 miles of private land. In Wyoming, the APA crosses 78 miles of Federal, 1 mile of State and 30 miles of private land. In Colorado, the APA crosses 71 miles of Federal, 7 miles of State and 12 miles of private land. In Utah the APA crosses 230 miles of Federal, 50 miles of State, 3 miles of Tribal and 123 miles of private land. In Nevada, the APA crosses 135 miles of Federal, 14 miles of Tribal and 7 miles of private land. Transmission line alternatives were developed as part of this EIS analysis. Additional Federal land jurisdictions crossed by Project alternatives include: ColoradoBLM Grand Junction Field Office; Utah BLM Moab, Richfield, and St. George Field Offices and Fishlake, Ashley and Dixie National Forests; NevadaNational Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE). These alternatives cross State and private lands in addition to the Federal lands. The DEIS includes draft amendments of USFS Land and Resource Management Plans (Forest Plans) and BLM land use plans (Management Framework Plans and Resource Management Plans) that would be needed for the Project under each of the alternatives. The BLM and USFS draft amendments are described in the Supplementary Information section of this NOA. Additionally, based on information learned through the EIS process, the USFS may determine that more plan amendments are required to fulfill the intent of standards and guidelines in the areas affected. Depending on the alternative selected in the Record of Decision (ROD), the NPS may consider applications for segments of the Project within Lake Mead National Recreation Area and across the Deer Lodge Road that provides access to Dinosaur National Monument. By this notice, and the Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS, published January 4, 2011 (see below), the BLM is providing notice to the public of potential amendments to land use plans and Forest Plans, as required by 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1610.2(c) and 36 CFR 219.8. The impacts of these potential amendments are analyzed in the DEIS together with the impacts of the various Project alternatives. Your input is important and will be considered in the environmental analysis process. All comment submissions must include the commenter's name and street address. Comments including the names and addresses of the commenter will be available for public inspection at the locations listed below during normal business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.