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Virtual Open House for the Draft Solar Programmatic EIS

Thank you for visiting the virtual open house for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) updated Western Solar Plan (Draft Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement [EIS]).

This virtual open house provides information about the updated Western Solar Plan and the BLM's ongoing efforts to support appropriate renewable energy development on our nation's public lands. In-person, open house public meetings are being held February 6 through February 22, 2024, in six cities across the 11-state planning area. For information about the in-person public meetings, please visit the BLM National NEPA Register (ePlanning). Material to be provided at the public meetings is identical to the material presented here.

The following 2-page Fact Sheet provides a high-level summary, in question and answer format, of the key elements of the updated Western Solar Plan.

Station 1: Introduction, Purpose & Need, and Reasonably Foreseeable Development Scenario (RFDS)

The BLM is evaluating modifications to its current solar energy program to improve and expand its utility-scale solar energy planning. The following document provides details on specific changes that the BLM is proposing, why the changes are needed, and how much land is likely to be needed.

Station 2: Alternatives and Maps

The updated Western Solar Plan evaluates five Action Alternatives relative to the current Western Solar Plan (which is the No Action Alternative). Each of the five Action Alternatives would identify BLM-administered lands available for or excluded from application for utility-scale solar energy development in the 11-state planning area. The following links provide information on types of lands each alternative includes and excludes, land allocations in each state in the planning area, and the BLM's preferred alternative.

Station 3: Exclusion Criteria

The Western Solar Plan identified exclusion categories based on known areas of importance for cultural, environmental, or other resources. The updated Western Solar Plan is improving on these existing exclusions. The document linked below provides details on each exclusion category.

Station 4: Design Features and Requirements for Further Environmental Analysis

Design features are project requirements to avoid, minimize, and/or compensate for adverse impacts. The action alternatives in the updated Western Solar Plan include many improvements on the design features initially established through the 2012 Western Solar Plan.

Because the updated Western Solar Plan does not evaluate or approve specific solar energy development projects, further environmental analysis would be required to approve any solar energy projects on BLM-administered land.

The following document provides details on the design features and required additional environmental analysis.

Station 5: Socioeconomic Considerations

The socioeconomic considerations provide information about how the BLM assesses socioeconomic impacts; discusses how solar energy development, specifically the updated Western Solar Plan, could impact local communities and regional economies; and requests input from communities within the 11-state planning area.

Providing Effective Comments

  • Limit comments to the 11 states evaluated in the EIS.
  • Provide information relevant to the resource areas evaluated in the EIS.
  • Provide input on the 5 action alternatives – including elements from all alternatives to be adopted in a Final Plan.
  • Provide input on the identified exclusion criteria or design features.
  • Provide information about how solar energy development might impact your lives (consider access to recreation, cultural and Tribal concerns, job opportunities, housing, community cohesion, livestock grazing and rangelands, environmental justice communities, etc.)

The public comment period is open through April 18, 2024.

Viewing the specific locations of proposed lands available for application and lands proposed for exclusion may be valuable in providing comments. These locations can be viewed on the BLM's data viewer.

Submit Comments (ePlanning)