Conduct NEPA Evaluation
Applicants are required to complete appropriate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance for the application, as required by 43 CFR part 46 and 40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508.
In most cases, the BLM will determine that solar energy applications outside of designated leasing areas (DLAs) will require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under NEPA.
In some limited cases (such as for some high-priority applications as defined under 43 CFR 2804.35), it may be sufficient to conduct an Environmental Analysis (EA)-level planning effort with a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).
NEPA requirements include coordination with appropriate Federal, State, and local government agencies and tribes.
In the Solar Programmatic EIS Record of Decision, the BLM recommends coordination/consultation with the following entities while reviewing right-of-way (ROW) applications to help the BLM determine the potential for impacts on important resources; explore ways to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate such impacts; and ensure consistency with relevant plans, policies, and initiatives:
- Consultation with tribes
- Coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
- Coordination with State fish and wildlife agencies
- For applications in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) planning area, coordinate with California Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT) agencies
- National Park Service (NPS)
- U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and/or BLM National Trails System Office
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on any application that could result in impacts on Endangered Species Act (ESA)‑listed species and their habitat
- State and local (county and/or municipal) governments to determine compatibility with officially adopted plans and policies
- U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- State and regional transmission planning efforts
- The railroad industry to determine the potential for impacts on railroad ROWs and railroad operations
- Any potentially affected grazing permittee/lessee (if not already done during preliminary meetings)
- Existing ROW holders for ROWs within or near the boundaries of the proposed project
- The owner of any Federal mining claims and/or mineral leases located within the boundaries of the proposed project
Public outreach is a NEPA requirements and includes issuance of a Notice of Intent (NOI) and a minimum 30-day public scoping period. For an EIS-level planning effort, a 90+-day public comment period on a draft EIS is required; for an EA-level planning effort, a 30-day public comment period on a draft EA is required (BLM Land Use Planning Handbook H-1601-1).