81 FR 12932 - Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Land Use Plan Amendments for Segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West 500-kV Transmission Line Project, Idaho

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 48 (March 11, 2016)

Page Range12932-12935
FR Document2016-05572

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendments for the right-of-way (ROW) application for Segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West 500-kilovolt (kV) Transmission Line Project in Idaho, and by this notice is announcing the opening of the comment period.

Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 48 (Friday, March 11, 2016)
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 48 (Friday, March 11, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12932-12935]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2016-05572]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[15XL LLWY9200000.L51010000.ER0000.LVRWK09K0990.241A.00; 4500083323; 
IDI-35849]


Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement and Draft Land Use Plan Amendments for Segments 8 and 
9 of the Gateway West 500-kV Transmission Line Project, Idaho

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 
prepared a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and 
Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendments for the right-of-way 
(ROW) application for Segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West 500-kilovolt 
(kV) Transmission Line Project in Idaho, and by this notice is 
announcing the opening of the comment period.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive 
written comments on the Draft Supplemental EIS and Draft RMP Amendments 
by June 9, 2016. To provide the public an opportunity to review the 
proposal and project information, the BLM will hold the following 
public meetings during the public comment period. Additional 
announcements about these meetings will be made by news releases to the 
media, newsletter mailings, and posting on the project Web site listed 
below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Boise, Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport, 2645 W. 
Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705
4 p.m.-7 p.m. Kuna, Kuna Senior Center, 229 N. Ave. A, Kuna, ID 83634

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4 p.m.-7 p.m. Twin Falls, BLM District Office, 2878 Addison Avenue 
East, Twin Falls, ID 83301

Thursday, April 21, 2016

4 p.m.-7 p.m. Murphy, Owyhee County Historical Society Museum, 17085 
Basey St., Murphy, ID 83650

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the Draft Supplemental 
EIS and Draft RMP Amendments by any of the following methods:
     Web site: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_register/gateway-west.html
     Email: [email protected]
     Mail: Bureau of Land Management Idaho State Office, 
Gateway West Transmission Project, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, ID 
83709.

    Copies of the Draft Supplemental EIS and Draft RMP Amendments are 
available in the BLM Idaho State Office Public Room, at the above 
address; the BLM Boise District Office, 3948 Development Avenue, Boise, 
ID 83705; and the BLM Twin Falls District Office, 2878 Addison Avenue 
East, Twin Falls, ID 83301.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Feeney, Public Affairs 
Specialist, telephone 208-373-4060; address 1387 South Vinnell Way, 
Boise, ID 83709; email [email protected]. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact Mrs. 
Feeney. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a 
message or question for Mrs. Feeney. You will receive a reply during 
normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Documents pertinent to this proposal may be 
examined at:
     Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Office, Public 
Room, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, ID 83709, Telephone: 208-373-3863.
     Bureau of Land Management, Boise District Office, 3948 
Development Avenue, Boise, ID 83705, Telephone: 208-384-3300.
     Online: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_register/gateway-west.html

PacifiCorp, dba Rocky Mountain Power, and Idaho Power (Applicants) have 
submitted a ROW application to locate 500 kV- electric transmission 
lines on Federal lands as part of the Gateway West Transmission Line 
Project. The initial application proposed to construct electric 
transmission lines from the Windstar Substation near Glenrock, Wyoming, 
to the Hemingway Substation near Melba, Idaho, approximately 20 miles 
southwest of Boise, Idaho. The original project comprised 10

[[Page 12933]]

transmission line segments with a total length of approximately 1,000 
miles and was analyzed in a Final EIS published in April 2013. The BLM 
issued a Record of Decision in November 2013 which authorized routes on 
Federal lands for Segments 1 through 7 and Segment 10 but deferred a 
decision for Segments 8 and 9.
    In August 2014, the BLM received from the Applicants a revised ROW 
application for Segments 8 and 9 and a revised Plan of Development 
(POD) for the project. The BLM determined that new information in the 
revised ROW application and POD, including revised proposed routes for 
the transmission lines and several modified design features, would 
require additional NEPA analysis of potential environmental effects to 
supplement the analysis in the 2013 Final EIS. A Notice of Intent to 
prepare a Supplemental EIS was published in the Federal Register on 
September 19, 2014 (79 FR 56399), initiating a 45-day scoping period 
which included 4 open-house style public meetings in communities in the 
project area.
    The BLM must determine whether to authorize the use of public lands 
under its management for Segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West project. 
The BLM must consider existing RMPs and management framework plans 
(MFPs) in the decision to issue a ROW grant in accordance with 43 CFR 
1610.0-5(b). Portions of the proposed transmission line are not in 
conformance with several BLM land management plans, and therefore, 
amendments to these plans are analyzed as part of the Supplemental EIS. 
In addition, the BLM must ensure that the authorized project would be 
compatible with the purposes for which the Morley Nelson Snake River 
Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (SRBOP) is designated in 
Public Law 103-64 and with current policy for managing units of the 
National Landscape Conservation System.
    This notice announces the availability of the Draft Supplemental 
EIS for Segments 8 and 9 of the Gateway West Transmission Line Project 
and begins a 90-day public comment period on the range of alternatives, 
effects analysis and draft RMP/MFP amendments associated with 
authorizing the project on BLM-managed lands. Analysis in the 
Supplemental EIS will support a decision on whether to approve, approve 
with modifications, or deny the revised ROW application for Segments 8 
and 9.
    The BLM is the lead Federal agency for the NEPA analysis process 
and preparation of the supplemental EIS. The State of Idaho and Federal 
agencies with specialized expertise and/or jurisdictional 
responsibilities in the area of Segments 8 and 9 are participating as 
cooperating agencies. Cooperating agencies include the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; National Park Service; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 
Idaho State Historic Preservation Office; Idaho Department of Fish and 
Game; and the Idaho Governor's Office of Energy Resources.
    The BLM is also engaging in government-to-government consultations 
on the Supplemental EIS with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall 
and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley, under Federal laws and 
policies including but not limited to the National Historic 
Preservation Act, NEPA, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 
American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American Graves 
Protection and Repatriation Act, and Executive Orders 12875, 12898, 
13007, 13084, and 13175. Relevant issues and concerns that influenced 
the scope of the environmental analysis in the Draft but which were not 
addressed in the original EIS were identified during scoping. 
Alternatives considered in the Draft Supplemental EIS are analyzed 
based on all the issues included in the 2013 Final EIS (refer to 
Section 1.10 of the Final EIS), as well as new issues, direction in 
agency handbooks, and requirements of Federal and State laws and 
regulations. The following issue categories were identified from public 
and internal scoping conducted for the Supplemental EIS:

     Air quality and greenhouse gas;
     Agriculture, including effects to farming and dairy 
operations;
     Cultural resources and historic trails, including 
Oregon National Historic Trail, Native American cultural sites, 
Snake River Canyon cultural sites;
     Cumulative effects, especially to native vegetation and 
sage-grouse habitat;
     Effects on State lands and counties;
     Wildland fire risks;
     Safety, electrical environment and noise;
     Land uses;
     Plants, including invasive species and noxious weeds;
     Threatened, endangered and sensitive species (plants 
and wildlife);
     Recreation;
     Scenery and visual resources;
     Socioeconomic effects;
     Transportation and travel management;
     Water and riparian resources;
     Wild horses and burros;
     General wildlife and wildlife habitat; and
     Effects to resources, objects and values which the 
SRBOP enabling statute directs the BLM to conserve, protect and 
enhance.

The Draft Supplemental EIS analyzes in detail seven pairings of route 
alternatives for Segments 8 and 9 as Action Alternatives. Analysis of 
the No Action Alternative, under which the ROW application would be 
denied and Segments 8 and 9 would not be constructed, is included in 
the 2013 Final EIS for the original Gateway West project and is 
incorporated by reference in the Draft Supplemental EIS. In general, 
routes for Segment 8 are the more northerly of the two. Alternative 1 
is the pair of revised proposed routes for Segments 8 and 9, as 
presented by the Applicants. Alternative 2 pairs the revised proposed 
route for Segment 8 and the Final EIS proposed route for Segment 9. 
Alternative 3 is the revised proposed route for Segment 8 and a route 
designated 9K, which was developed as a result of scoping for the Draft 
Supplemental EIS. Alternative 4 pairs the Final EIS proposed route for 
Segment 9 and route designated as 8G, which was developed as a result 
of scoping for the Draft Supplemental EIS. Alternative 5 pairs routes 
8G and 9K. Alternative 6 consists of the Final EIS proposed route for 
Segment 9 and a Draft Supplemental EIS route 8H. Alternative 7 is 
routes 8H and 9K. The ROW width requested for all segments is 250 feet, 
except for Alternative 5, where a 500-foot ROW is required to 
accommodate two lines at the minimum separation distance. Portions of 
all route alternatives would cross the SRBOP.
    Both segments terminate at the Hemingway substation under all 
action alternatives. Segments are separated at distances of 250 feet to 
more than 30 miles, varying within routes and/or across alternatives. 
The Applicants propose wider separation to increase system reliability. 
Analysis of several other routes for Segments 8 and 9 in the 2013 Final 
EIS is carried forward by reference into the Draft Supplemental EIS.
Alternative 1
    This alternative represents the routes the Applicants propose in 
their revised ROW application. Segment 8 of this pairing is similar to 
the 2013 Final EIS proposed route except that it would parallel an 
existing 500-kilovolt (kV) line to the north instead of the south, from 
the point where it would enter the SRBOP to the Hemingway substation. 
It would cross 17.6 miles of the SRBOP.
    Segment 9 of this alternative is proposed to double-circuit the new 
500-kV line with existing 138-kV lines for most of the 54.2 miles it 
would cross the SRBOP. The Draft Supplemental EIS analyzes two 
variations of the revised proposed route for Segment 9 that were

[[Page 12934]]

recommended by the BLM Jarbidge Field Office to avoid or minimize 
impacts to the Toana Freight Wagon Road, a National Register historic 
site.
Alternative 2
    Alignment of Segment 8 under this alternative allows separation 
from populated areas and existing transmission infrastructure outside 
the SRBOP to the north while minimizing the disturbance footprint for 
the segment in the SRBOP (17.6 miles crossed) by paralleling an 
existing 500-kV line. The alignment for Segment 9 in this pairing is 
the shortest (162.2 miles) analyzed in the Draft Supplemental EIS for 
this segment and follows the West-wide Energy Corridor (WWEC) south of 
the SRBOP. It would cross the SRBOP for 13.6 miles.
Alternative 3
    This alternative would allow Segment 8 to be separated from 
populated areas and existing transmission infrastructure outside the 
SRBOP to the north while minimizing the disturbance footprint in the 
SRBOP (17.6 miles crossed) by paralleling an existing 500-kV line. 
Segment 9 would be routed to avoid impacts to agricultural operations 
and would cross the SRBOP for 8.7 miles.
Alternative 4
    In this pairing, the route for Segment 9 is aligned to the north, 
while the route for Segment 8 follows the more southerly alignment. 
Segment 8 is aligned to avoid crossing the northern portion of the 
SRBOP, the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and development near 
the town of Hagerman, Idaho. It crosses the SRBOP for 8.8 miles, at the 
southeast corner of the area. Segment 9 would be routed to avoid 
impacts to agricultural operations and would cross the SRBOP for 13.6 
miles.
Alternative 5
    Route 8G is aligned to avoid crossing the northern portion of the 
SRBOP, the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and development near 
the town of Hagerman, Idaho. It would cross the southeast corner of the 
SRBOP for 8.8 miles, at the southeast corner of the area.
    Route 9K is also aligned to avoid crossing the SRBOP, especially 
when paired with 8G, and to minimize direct and indirect impacts to 
priority Greater sage-grouse habitat. It would cross the southeast 
corner of the SRBOP for 8.7 miles, at the southeast corner of the area, 
where it would run parallel to 8G in a 500-foot wide ROW. This 
alternative makes most use of the reduced mandatory minimum separation 
distance for transmission lines adopted by the Western Electricity 
Coordinating Council in 2011 and would involve the shortest crossing of 
the SRBOP.
Alternative 6
    This alternative includes a route for Segment 8 (8H) that follows 
the 8G alignment for the first 44 miles and then follows the alignment 
of the revised proposed route for Segment 9 for the remainder of the 
route to the Hemingway substation. The BLM developed this alternative 
to depict opportunities for compensatory mitigation in the SRBOP. It 
would cross the SRBOP for a total of 67.8 miles.
Alternative 7
    This alternative pairs two BLM-developed routes: 8H for Segment 8 
and 9K for Segment 9. It would cross the SRBOP for a total of 62.9 
miles.
Mitigation
    The Draft Supplemental EIS incorporates by reference the analysis 
related to Segments 8 and 9 in the Gateway West 2013 Final EIS, 
including relevant Proposed Environmental Protection Measures 
identified in Table 2.7-1 of that document. The Draft Supplemental EIS 
supplements the analysis found in that Final EIS by assessing new 
information that has become available since the FEIS and ROD were 
published, including the identification of new routes and route 
variations for segments 8 and 9.
    All of those new routes and route variations would have some impact 
on the SRBOP, a National Conservation Area and unit of the National 
Landscape Conservation System. The Presidential Memorandum on 
Mitigation (November 3, 2105) requires that agencies ``[e]stablish a 
net benefit goal or, at a minimum, a no net loss goal for natural 
resources the agency manages that are important, scarce, or sensitive. 
. .''. The Memorandum further provides that: ``[w]hen a resource's 
value is determined to be irreplaceable, the preferred means of 
achieving either of these goals is through avoidance, consistent with 
applicable legal authorities.'' Memorandum at section 3(a).
    As part of their revised POD, the Applicants have proposed a 
mitigation and enhancement portfolio (MEP) with design features 
specific to the SRBOP, aimed at mitigating the effects of project-
related impacts within the SRBOP, as well as complying with the SRBOP's 
enabling statute. The BLM is required under existing policies to 
determine the measurable environmental impacts of proposed mitigation. 
The Draft Supplemental EIS analyzes the impacts associated with the 
MEP, and finds that the MEP does not provide sufficient details or 
specifics for development of mitigation actions to allow BLM to 
determine how the MEP goals would be achieved.
    Thus, in addition to application of the Proposed Environmental 
Protection Measures identified in Table 2.7-1 of the Final EIS, the BLM 
will continue to work with all stakeholders to identify any impacts 
that would remain on the SRBOP after implementation of the MEP, and to 
design a mitigation plan that addresses those remaining impacts. This 
plan will ensure that impacts to resources and values on the SRBOP that 
require mitigation are fully compensated, and that enhancement of these 
resources is provided in a manner that complies with all existing 
policies and the enabling statute of the SRBOP.
    The following mitigation categories are among those being 
considered to address remaining impacts to vegetation resources within 
the SRBOP:

     Habitat and vegetation restoration efforts;
     Fuels management/fuel breaks
     Wildfire preparedness and suppression;
     Applied research and monitoring to inform adaptive 
management; and
     Acquisition of private land from willing sellers if 
found to be appropriate by the Authorizing Officer.

    The Draft Supplemental EIS also presents a framework the BLM has 
developed for assessing compensatory mitigation required under FLPMA 
and for implementing Bureau and Department of the Interior mitigation 
policies for mitigation and the Presidential Memorandum on landscape-
scale mitigation (November 3, 2015) for impacts to National Historic 
Trails, cultural resources, wetlands, and resources, objects and values 
in the SRBOP. The framework discusses avoidance, minimization and 
compensation measures that would be required under each alternative. 
Impacts to Greater sage-grouse and migratory birds are addressed in the 
2013 Final EIS for the entire, 10-segment project and the 2013 Record 
of Decision.
Agency Preferred Alternative
    In accordance with U.S. Department of the Interior regulations (43 
CFR 46.425), the BLM identifies Alternatives 2 and 5 as co-Preferred 
Alternatives for the purposes of public review and comment. 
Identification of these alternatives does not represent final agency 
direction, and the Final Supplemental EIS may reflect changes or 
adjustments based on information

[[Page 12935]]

received during public comment on the Draft Supplemental EIS, on new, 
relevant information acquired after the Draft Supplemental EIS is 
published, or on changes in BLM policies or priorities. The Final 
Supplemental EIS may include actions described in the other analyzed 
alternatives as well.
    Alternative 2 would require 12 plan amendments to six current land 
use plans so that the project would conform to the respective plans. 
The following land use plans would be amended in a decision selecting 
Alternative 2:

Twin Falls MFP
Jarbidge RMP (1987, for areas not covered by the 2015 Jarbidge RMP)
Snake River Birds of Prey RMP
Bennett Hills/Timmerman Hills MFP
Kuna MFP
Bruneau MFP.

In order to authorize Segment 8 in this alternative, four land use 
plans would need to be amended. The Kuna MFP would need an amendment to 
add a new major transmission line ROW. The SRBOP RMP would need 
amendments to allow the project within 0.5 mile of sensitive plant 
habitat, and to designate an additional corridor to include the Summer 
Lake 500-kV line and one additional 500-kV line. The 1987 Jarbidge RMP 
would need amendments to reclassify an avoidance/restricted area to 
allow an overhead 500-kV powerline, to change the cultural resource 
direction to allow disturbance within 0.5 mile of National-Historic-
Trail ruts where visual resources are already compromised, and to 
change an area of VRM Class I to VRM Class IV, consistent with new 
policy guidance. The Bennett Hills/Timmerman Hills MFP would need 
amendments changing VRM Class II area to VRM Class III and changing 
management direction regarding archaeological sites.
    In order to authorize Segment 9 in this alternative, three land use 
plans would need to be amended. The SRBOP RMP would need an amendment 
to allow the project within 0.5 mile of sensitive plant habitat (the 
same amendment as for Segment 8 in this alternative) and to designate 
an additional corridor to include one additional 500-kV line. The 
Bruneau MFP would require an amendment to change the classification for 
a VRM Class II parcel near Castle Creek to VRM Class III. The Twin 
Falls MFP would need amendments to allow the ROW outside of existing 
corridors and to reclassify VRM Class I and II areas adjacent to the 
Roseworth corridor to VRM class III, while allowing a 500-kV line to 
cross the Salmon Falls Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern 
(ACEC).
    Alternative 5 would require five plan amendments to three current 
land use plans so that the project would conform to the respective 
plans. The following land use plans would be amended in a decision 
selecting Alternative 5:

Twin Falls MFP
Snake River Birds of Prey RMP
Bruneau MFP.

In order to authorize the Segment 8 alignment in this alternative, two 
land use plans would need to be amended. The SRBOP RMP would require an 
amendment to allow an additional ROW and designate an additional 
corridor for two 500-kV lines, as well as an amendment to allow the 
project within 0.5 mile of sensitive plant habitat. The Bruneau MFP 
would also need to be amended to change the classification for a VRM 
Class II parcel near Castle Creek to VRM Class III. These same 
amendments to the SRBOP RMP and Bruneau MFP would be needed for Segment 
9 in this alternative, as the routes would parallel each other in these 
planning areas. Authorizing the Segment 9 alignment in this alternative 
would also require two additional amendments. The Twin Falls MFP would 
need amendments to allow the ROW outside of existing corridors, and to 
reclassify VRM Class I and II areas adjacent to the Roseworth corridor 
to VRM class III, while allowing a 500-kV line to cross the Salmon 
Falls Creek ACEC.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted, 
including names, street addresses, and email addresses of persons who 
submit comments, will be available for public review and disclosure at 
the above ADDRESSES during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), 
Monday through Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10, 43 CFR 1610.2.

Timothy M. Murphy,
BLM Idaho State Director.
[FR Doc. 2016-05572 Filed 3-10-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-GG-P


81_FR_12980
Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionNotices
ActionNotice.
DatesTo ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive written comments on the Draft Supplemental EIS and Draft RMP Amendments by June 9, 2016. To provide the public an opportunity to review the proposal and project information, the BLM will hold the following public meetings during the public comment period. Additional announcements about these meetings will be made by news releases to the media, newsletter mailings, and posting on the project Web site listed below.
ContactHeather Feeney, Public Affairs
FR Citation81 FR 12932 

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