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North Steens Transmission Line Scoping Notice and Comment Form

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11 pages
North Steens Transmission Line Project Environmental Impact StatementScoping ◦ Summer 2009 BLM Seeking Public Input for Environmental Analysis PROJECT OVERVIEW Echanis, LLC. (Echanis), a subsidiary of Columbia Energy Partners, LLC submitted right-of-way (ROW) applications to the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM Burns District Office) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a new double-circuit 230 kilovolt (kV) overhead electric transmission line and ancillary facilities (referred to as the North Steens Transmission Line Project) on Federal lands located in Harney County, southeastern Oregon. The BLM will be the lead federal agency for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance process. The BLM Burns District Office intends to complete an environmental analysis and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in response to the ROW applications. Separate ROW grants would be issued by BLM and USFWS to authorize Echanis to construct, operate and maintain the transmission line across public lands. Authorization of the proposed action may require the amendment of BLM land use plans. The proposed North Steens Transmission Line Project originates at the Echanis substation and terminates at Diamond Junction in Harney County, Oregon (see preliminary project map). The transmission line would be approximately 29 miles in ...
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North Steens Transmission Line Project Environmental Impact Statement ScopingSummer 2009
BLM Seeking Public Input for Environmental Analysis
PROJECT OVERVIEW
Ec hanis, LLC. (Ec hanis), a subsidiary of Columbia Energy Partners, LLC submitted right-of-way (RO W) applications to the U.S. Depa rtment of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM Burns District Office) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) for the construc tion, operation, and maintenance of a new double-circuit 230 kliovolt (kV) overhead electric transmission line and ancillary facilities (referred to as the North Steens Transmsision Line Project) on Federal lands located in Harney County, southeastern Oregon. The BLM will be the lead federal agency for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance process .The BLM Burns Dsitrict Office intends to complete an environmental analysis and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in response to the ROW applications. Sepa rate RO W grants would be issued by BLM and USFWS to authorize Ec hanisto c onstruc t, operate and maintain the transmission line ac ross public lands. Authorization of the proposed action may require the amendment of BLM land use plans.
The proposed North Steens rTansmission Line Projec t originates at the Ec hanis substation and terminates at Diamond Junction in Harney C ounty, Oregon (see preliminary projec t map). The transmission line would be approximately 29 mlies in length, with 9 miles on BLM-administered public lands (Burns District Office ), 1.3 miles on Ma lheur Nationa l Wildlife Refuge, and 19 miles on private lands. Initially Echanis would install one circuit to 230-kV specific ation, but operated at 115-kV, and the second circuit of the double-circuit transmission line would be installed in the future. The total width of RO W for the new transmission line is 150 feet. Access roads (both permanent and temporary) on Federal and private lands will be required for c onstruc tion and maintenance of the new transmission line. The transmission line and ancillary facilities are anticipated to be c onstruc ted in 2011. The purpose of the North Steens Transmission Line EIS ScopingSummer 2009 (Bulletin No. 1) Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office
transmission line would be to convey power generated from the Ec hanis and other potential wind energy facilities proposed for development by Columbia Energy Partners on private lands on the north side of Steens Mountain. 
]PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT AND SCOPING
Public participation is essenital for the environmental review process and informed dec ision-making. It may oc cur throughout the NEPA proce ss. Sc oping is one form of public involvement and is just the beginning of the public partic ipation process. It occurs early in the NEPA proc ess and generallyextends through the development of alternatives. The public, government entities (Tribes, Federal, State, and local ), and o ther interested parties are invited to partic ipate in the scoping process to identify resource management issues of concern, potential impacts and possible mitigation measures, reasonable alternatives to the proposed ac tion, cumulative (past, present, and reasonably foreseeable) ac tions within and adjac ent to the projec t area, and site-spec ific baseline information for the environmental analysis.Public input is important in establishing the scope of issues for the environmental analysis. The EIS wlil addresssignificant issue,s potential impacts, and reasonable alternatives brough tforth through scoping (both internal and external).
The BLM understands the importance o f involving the public and other agencies in the planning process. We will work closely with interested parties to identify the best possible alternatives and management decisions that will take into account local, regional, and national needs and concerns. In addition to the scoping process, BLM will provide a formal opportunity to comment on the Draft EIS (minimum of 45-day c omment period). Local public meetings will be held during the scoping and draft EIS satges. The BLMencoura ges public partic ipation and welcomes comments and questions about thsi project.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS AND TIMELINE
NEPA is a federal law that requires federal agencies to complete an EIS for ac tions that may significantly affec t the quality of the human environment. A portion of the proposed North Steens rTansmission Line Project would be located on public lands managed by the BLM and USFWS; therefore, the proposed ROW on fede ral public lands is co nsidered a Federal ac tion requiring NEPA c omplianc e. An EIS provides a detailed analysis of the potential impac ts (direc t, indirect, and cumulative) of a proposed range of reasonable alternatives. This environmental review requires disclosure of potential impacts on private lands as a connect ed act ion, however, the federal agencies only have authority to approve or issue permits for those actions occurring on public lands. The BLM and USFWS wlil use the EIS process to make separate final decisions (Record of Dec ision) to approve or deny the RO W grants on BLM- and USFWS-administered federal lands.
North Steens Transmission Line EIS ScopingSummer 2009 (Bulletin No. 1) Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office
Anticipa ted timeline for the EIS proc ess is: Public Scoping: Summer 2009 Draft EIS: Winter/Spring 2010      Final EIS: Summer/Fall 2010 BLM and USFWS Records of Decision: Fall/Winter 2010 ROW Notice to Proceed :  Spring 2011  
ISSUES, IMPACTS, AND POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVES
The BLM will use scoping comments to focus the envrionmental analysis on issues or impacts of concern. The BLM and USFWS have identified the following preliminary issues or potential resource impacts for the environmental analysis:  Effects on Wildlife and Special Status Species  fects onEfoi ns(neV getetaies)spec ns,ntla pvetisi evisavni/suoixo   and Riparian ns,Effects on Wetlands, Floodplai Areas  es a dnT irab laVul RalurltesrcouesceffEuC no st   Visualand Use and Effects on Resources L This preliminary list in not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather to serve as a starting point for public input. The BLM invites the public to suggest spec ific issues or impact s of concern and reasonable alternatives to the proposed action to be addressed in the EIS.
PUBLIC SCOPING MEETINGS
The BLM will host 4 open houses prior to the formal scoping period to kick-off the EIS process. Durnig the open houses, the public and other agencies will have the opportunity to learn about the proposed act ion, discuss regulatory processes and projec t details with federal agency, projec t consultant and proponent representatives, and provide formal wrtiten comments for the environmental analysis.
Public Open House Schedule and Locations:
Frenchglen School, Frenchglen, OR
Federal, State, and local agen cies and Native Americ an tribes that may be interested in or affected by BLM and USFWS decisions on the North Steens Transmsision Line Project are also urged to participate in this external scoping process.
North Steens Transmission Line EIS ScopingSummer 2009 (Bulletin No. 1) Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office
SCOPING COMMENTS SUBMITTAL
Although sc oping meetings were held July 21 through July 23, 2009, the formal scoping period begins on July 27, 2009 when the Notic e of Intent (NO I) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is published in the Federal Register, and ends August 26, 2009 30 days after the NOI is published. Please submit scoping comments specific to the North Steens Transmission Line EIS anytime during this timeframe.
Written commentsmay be submitted by the following means: • Leave the comment form at the public scoping meetings • Mail the comment form or a letter to the address below • Fax the comment form or a letter ot 541-573-4411  E-mail comments to:  OR_Burns_NS_Transmsision_Line_EIS@blm.gov 
This sc oping comment form is also available on the BLM project website: http://www. blm.gov/or/d istricts/bu rns/plans/index.php
BLM- District Office Attn.: North Steens Transmission Line EIS Projec t Lead 28910 Highway 20 West Hines,OR 97738
For moreinformation or if you wish to be adde d or removed from our mailing list, please call (541) 573-4443. Individuals placed on the project mailing list wil receive period ic updates and announcements via e-mail. The BLM has set up a website http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/burns/plans/index.php for the public to trac k the projec t status and view documents throughout the EIS proc ess.
North Steens Transmission Line EIS ScopingSummer 2009 (Bulletin No. 1) Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office