Interagency workgroup seeks public input in Energy Corridor Review

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An interagency workgroup consisting of the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Energy is seeking the public’s assistance with an ongoing review of federal energy corridors, Section 368 Corridors, in 11 western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

A Request for Information was published in the Federal Register on March 28 soliciting information for consideration in developing the Section 368 Corridor Study and provides the foundation for an initial Regional Periodic Review of the Section 368 Corridors. The information request is an important step for the BLM, Forest Service and energy department’s efforts to determine if Section 368 Corridors should be modified to better serve public interests. The public comment period will be open for 60 days.

The corridors were designated in 2009, as required by Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. To resolve a lawsuit filed by several nonprofit groups that challenged the corridor designation decisions, the agencies and the plaintiffs entered into a settlement agreement. This Request for Information seeks to gather information relevant to specific provisions set forth in the settlement.

The information sought by the RFI covers two major areas: a Section 368 Corridor Study, and Regional Periodic Review of Section 368 Corridors.

Section 368 Corridors Study

1.      Advances/Updates in GIS Data. Because the original corridors were designed with data available prior to 2009, the Agencies are interested in obtaining new GIS information that may affect the location of Section 368 Corridors.

2.      Types of Projects Considered.  The Agencies are focused on 100kV and larger transmission projects, and oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines 10 inches or more in diameter that have been authorized on Federal lands. The Agencies are interested in knowing if the public thinks that there are other types of projects that they should consider in assessing use of Section 368 Corridors.

3.      Method for Assessing Inter-Agency Operating Procedures. The Agencies will assess the effectiveness of the operating procedures in expediting the siting, permitting, and review process and are interested in receiving suggestions of methods for assessing the effectiveness of operating procedures.

Regional Periodic Review of Section 368 Corridors

1.      Additional Public Information. The Agencies have listed several studies and reports they are considering and are interested in learning if there is other publicly available information that the Agencies should consider as part of the initial Regional Periodic Review of Section 368 Corridors, including review of the Inter-Agency Operating Procedures.

2.      New Laws and Regulations That Affect Section 368 Corridors. The Agencies are interested in learning if there are any laws, regulations, or other requirements that have been implemented after January 2009 that the Agencies should consider when reviewing Section 368 Corridors.

3.      Stakeholder Fora. The Agencies are interested in learning if there are any additional fora that could be considered for stakeholder engagement during Regional Periodic Reviews.

4.      Inter-Agency Operating Procedures Modifications. The Agencies are interested in learning if there any additions, deletions, or revisions the Agencies should consider making to operating procedures.

5.      Comments on New Inter-Agency Operating Procedures. The Agencies have committed to consideration of new operation procedures submitted by the plaintiffs who are parties to the settlement. The Agencies are soliciting comment on new operating procedures.

Through this outreach, the agencies hope to engage government agencies, tribes, industry, and the general public in designating the location and use of Section 368 Corridors.

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