Two SEZs were identified in Arizona through the 2012 Western Solar Plan: Brenda SEZ and Gillespie SEZ. The Agua Caliente SEZ was subsequently identified through a statewide planning effort for facilitating renewable energy development (the Restoration Design Energy Project or RDEP), for which a Record of Decision was signed in January 2013.
In the 2012 Solar PEIS, the BLM committed to preparing solar regional mitigation strategies (SRMSs) for the SEZs. These regional mitigation strategies were intended to simplify and improve the mitigation process for future solar projects in SEZs. The SRMS final report addressing future solar development in the Arizona SEZs is available through the mitigation section of the web pages for the Agua Caliente, Brenda, and Gillespie SEZs.
With IM-2019-018, the BLM established policy that compensatory mitigation could not be required as a condition for project approvals. However, with the issuance of IM 2021-038 on July 14, 2021, the BLM rescinded the previous IM-2019-018. The BLM expects to establish policies which are aligned with EO 13990, SO 3398, and the priorities of the Department. During this interim period offices should consider and implement compensatory mitigation on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with state office and national office program specialists and the Office of the Solicitor as needed.