Environmental Review

Tri-State is requesting right-of-way grants from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as well as financial assistance from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for their San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project. The Western Area Power Administration (Western) also is a cooperating agency. Prior to making a decision about whether to approve funding requests or to grant rights-of-way for the proposed project, federal agencies are required to conduct environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For this project, the BLM is the lead federal agency for NEPA.

As part of the NEPA process, public scoping meetings were held in October 2009. Federal, state and local agencies were also invited to provide input as part of the scoping process. After further review, the BLM determined it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for project.

Additional public scoping meetings will be held by the BLM for the EIS on March 16 and 17, 2011. Route refinement workshops were hosted by Tri-State in September 2010. These workshops enabled the gathering of input from the public, agencies and industry on the alternatives selection, or siting, process. The routing alternatives selected will be evaluated in the EIS.

Environmental Impact Statement

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft EIS, once it is complete. After the final EIS is prepared, the federal agencies will prepare a Record of Decision (ROD) addressing how the findings of the EIS, including consideration of alternatives, were incorporated into the decision-making process.

In addition to NEPA, other federal environmental laws including the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) apply. NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings on historic properties and affords the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, as well as interested parties, an opportunity to comment. Consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act may be needed if any endangered or threatened species are likely to be affected.

Project Benefits

The proposed project would:

  • Improve the power delivery infrastructure to Colorado and New Mexico's San Juan Basin
  • Increase the load serving capabilities for residential, small business, and industrial electric consumers (including oil and gas developers)
  • Relieve transmission constraints for the region
  • Provide a pathway for potential renewable energy development

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