Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Permitting and Program Resources
Quick Links

Conduct NEPA Evaluation

Procedures for Issuing Solar Energy ROW Grants Applicant-initiated action BLM-initiated action Major milestone BLM Issues ROW Grant BLM Evaluates Application Terms and Conditions for Grants Developer Submits Application Due diligence Assignments Issue notice to proceed Rent and applicable fees Performance and reclamation bond Finalize cost recovery Finalize plan of development Conduct NEPA evaluation Reject or prioritize application Variance concurrence (if applicable) Competitive bidding (if applicable) Initiate early tribal and interagency outreach Determine applicant technical/financial capabilities Preliminary meetings Initiate cost recovery Plan of development Application filing fee
Click on the steps in the diagram to learn more

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).

Coordination Activities

NEPA requirements include coordination with appropriate Federal, State, and local government agencies and tribes.

In the 2012 Western Solar Plan, 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

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).