The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today provided Etopia News with a link to a flow chart and an explanation of how projects will be approved under the terms of the recently-announced Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. According to the agency:
“Here's a flow chart that sums up how the BLM considers applications for solar development: http://blmsolar.anl.gov/program/diagram/.
“The first step is for a potential developer to file an application for the area they'd like to develop. Then the BLM will meet with the applicant, conduct surveys and inventories to understand resources that could be impacted, and conduct environmental review to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act [(NEPA)]. This contains many steps, including scoping, drafts, public input periods and final review periods.
“Concurrently with the NEPA process, we consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required by the Endangered Species Act and undertake cultural resources and tribal consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act.
“After these steps, we'll issue a decision on the project and, if approved, issue a right-of-way to the developer with associated mitigation requirements.
“The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan doesn't eliminate any of these steps, but it does shorten them. For example:
- the plan describes all survey requirements so applicants know what will be required
- the environmental review can take advantage of all the environmental analysis already done through the DRECP, potentially shortening that process.
- the DRECP allows for more predictable and shorter consultations under the Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act.
- the DRECP defines required mitigation, so applicants know ahead of time what will be required.”