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About the Solar PEIS

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Frequently Asked Questions

How the Solar PEIS Has Been Prepared

The Solar PEIS has been prepared according to the regulatory requirements for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act.

The President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has issued regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. These regulations identify the steps that must be taken in the preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). These steps are:

  1. A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare the Programmatic EIS is published in the Federal Register. (Note: the NOI for the Solar PEIS is available on the Documents page of this Web site.)


  2. The NOI announces a scoping period during which written and other comments on the content of the programmatic EIS are gathered, including statements made at public meetings.


  3. A Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Programmatic EIS) is prepared, which, at a minimum, includes:
    1. Summary;
    2. Purpose of and need for action;
    3. Alternatives, including proposed action;
    4. Affected environment; and
    5. Environmental consequences.

  4. A Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register announcing the distribution of the Draft Programmatic EIS, announcing a public comment period, and describing how the public may comment, including the location and schedule of public meetings on the Draft Programmatic EIS.


  5. For some EISs, a Supplement is prepared to revise and/or expand on the alternatives presented in the Draft Programmatic EIS. A Notice of Availability of the Supplement to the Draft is again published in the Federal Register, through which availability of the Supplement is stated and a public comment period is announced.

  6. A Final Programmatic EIS is prepared that includes descriptions of public comments on the draft and Supplement (if applicable) and discussions on how they were addressed in the Final Programmatic EIS.


  7. An NOA is published in the Federal Register notifying the public that the Final EIS has been issued.


  8. A Record of Decision (ROD) is published in the Federal Register no sooner than 30 days after publication of the Final EIS. The ROD describes the agency's decision regarding the proposed action.

The Draft PEIS, the Supplement to the Draft PEIS, the Final PEIS, the NOIs and NOAs, and the ROD will be available for downloading and browsing on the Documents page as they are published.

Approach for the Solar PEIS

The NOI for the Solar PEIS was published in the Federal Register on May 29, 2008. An SEZ NOA identifying and providing maps for 24 proposed solar energy zones was published on June 30, 2009. An NOA for the Draft Solar PEIS was published on December 17, 2010, and an NOA for the Supplement to the Draft Solar PEIS was published on October 28, 2011. The NOA for the Final Solar PEIS was published on July 27, 2012.

To consider the variety of resource issues and concerns identified, the Agencies have used an interdisciplinary approach to develop the PEIS. Specialists with expertise in the following disciplines have been involved in the planning process: solar energy, wildlife and special status species, vegetation, air quality, outdoor recreation, landscape architecture, archaeology, paleontology, hydrology, soils, sociology, and economics.

The PEIS describes the purpose and need for the proposed actions based on mandates of various federal regulations and Executive Orders. It also describes solar energy technologies; the distribution of solar energy resources on a regional scale; activities to be undertaken for site monitoring, evaluation, and utility-scale development; the impacts associated with implementing current technologies; and mitigation measures and constraints relevant to solar energy development.

The PEIS considers other transmission planning efforts (e.g., the Western Governors' Association Renewable Energy Zone Project, the California Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, and the PEIS entitled Designation of Energy Corridors on Federal Land in the 11 Western States (DOE/EIS-0386) in evaluating electricity transmission access issues associated with solar energy development in the six-state PEIS study area. The necessity of designation of additional electricity transmission corridors on BLM-administered lands to facilitate utility-scale solar energy development has been considered.

The PEIS evaluates direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts to wildlife, wildlife habitat, threatened and endangered species, and vegetation; impacts to wilderness and other special management areas; and impacts to cultural, paleontological, socioeconomic, visual, and water resources. These resources are recognized as significant issues associated with utility-scale solar energy development.