The consultation process specified under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is being followed for the Solar PEIS.
Conducting ESA Consultation
The BLM is currently engaged in ESA consultation on the Solar PEIS with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under Sections 7(a)(1) and 7(a)(2) of the ESA. The BLM, in consultation with the USFWS, is undertaking a conservation review pursuant to Section 7(a)(1) of the ESA on the overall Solar Energy Program, including the amendment of 89 land use plans and associated conservation measures. This consultation on the overarching program will provide guidance for subsequent solar projects by ensuring that the appropriate conservation measures for listed species are incorporated into project-level actions.
The BLM is also engaged in programmatic consultation with the USFWS on the identification of SEZs under Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA initiated through the submission of a programmatic Biological Assessment. This Biological Assessment describes potential effects on listed (endangered and/or threatened) species and designated critical habitat from expected solar development in SEZs and any appropriate mitigation, minimization, and avoidance measures. Further Section 7(a)(2) consultation will occur, as necessary, at the level of individual solar energy projects and will benefit from the preceding programmatic consultation and resulting programmatic Biological Opinion for SEZs.