[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 199 (Monday, October 15, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 62525-62526]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25288]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLNVS03000. L51010000.ER0000. LVRWF1204100; N-85801, N-89530, N-90050, 
and N-90823; MO4500039783; TAS: 14X5017]


Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement and the Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment for 
the Proposed Silver State Solar South Project in Clark County Near 
Primm, NV

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a 
Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a Draft 
Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment for the proposed Silver State 
Solar South Project located on public lands east of Primm, Nevada, and 
by this notice is announcing the opening of the comment period.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive 
written comments on the Draft Supplementary EIS and the Draft RMP 
Amendment within 90 days following the date the Environmental 
Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal 
Register. The BLM will announce future meetings or hearings and any 
other public involvement activities at least 15 days in advance through 
public notices, media releases, and/or mailings.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the Silver State Solar 
South Project by any of the following methods:
     Web site: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/energy/Silver_State_Solar_South.html.
     Email: SilverStateSouthEIS@blm.gov.
     Fax: 702-515-5155, attention Gregory Helseth.
     Mail: Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas Field Office, 
Attn: Gregory Helseth, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 
89130-2301.

Copies of the Silver State Solar South Project Draft Supplemental EIS 
and the Draft RMP Amendment are available in the BLM Southern Nevada 
District Office at the above address and on the project Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gregory Helseth, Renewable Energy 
Project Manager, at 702-515-5173; or address 4701 North Torrey Pines 
Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130-2301; or email ghelseth@blm.gov. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact 
the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is 
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question 
with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal 
business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Silver State Solar, LLC, has submitted a 
right-of-way (ROW) application for the construction, operation, 
maintenance, and termination of a solar energy generation facility on 
13,183 acres of public land east of Primm, Nevada. The ROW application 
is assigned BLM case number N-89530. This application expands on the 
previously considered ROW application N-85801. The proposed solar 
energy project would consist of photovoltaic (PV) panels and related 
infrastructure ROW appurtenances, including a substation and switchyard 
facilities, and would produce about 350 megawatts (MW) of electricity. 
The solar field and infrastructure would consist of single-axis tracker 
systems or fixed panels, an underground and overhead electrical power 
collection system, two step-up transformers, 230 kilovolt (kV) and 220 
kV transmission lines, an operation and maintenance area, a switchyard, 
paved access and maintenance roads, flood and drainage controls, and a 
fire break.
    The Silver State Solar South Project Draft Supplemental EIS will 
address the new application N-89530 and update as necessary the 
consideration of N-85801, which was initially analyzed in the Final EIS 
for the Silver State Solar North Project. The approved Silver State 
Solar North Project did not authorize ROW application N-85801. The BLM 
approved a Record of Decision on October 12, 2010, for the Silver State 
Solar North Project and authorized ROW N-85077 for the construction and 
operation of a 50 MW PV solar energy facility on 618 acres of BLM 
administered lands adjacent to the Silver State South project area. The 
application for N-85801 is now included as part of the Silver State 
Solar South Project, along with ROW application N-89530. If the BLM 
approves ROW application N-89530, the BLM will also need to amend the 
October 1998 Las Vegas RMP to address proposed changes in land and 
resource use within the Jean Lake/Roach Lake Special Recreation 
Management Area (SRMA).
    The Draft Supplemental EIS analyzes the site-specific impacts on 
air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, special 
designations (SRMA), water resources, and geological resources and 
hazards. The document will also analyze land and airspace use, noise, 
paleontological resources, public health, socioeconomics, soils, 
traffic and transportation, visual resources, wilderness 
characteristics, waste management, worker safety, fire protection, and 
hazardous materials handling; as well as facility-design engineering, 
efficiency, reliability, transmission-system engineering, transmission 
line safety, and nuisance issues.
    By this notice, the BLM is complying with requirements in 43 CFR 
1610.2(c) to notify the public of potential amendments to land use 
plans. The BLM will integrate the land use planning process with the 
NEPA process for this project. Besides the SRMA, the BLM will consider 
additional plan amendments to the Las Vegas RMP, including a proposed 
nomination for an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) within 
the Ivanpah Valley and a Visual Resource Management (VRM) change within 
the project boundary from Class III to Class IV.
    As required by 43 C.F.R. 1610.7-2(b), the BLM is also taking public 
comments on the proposed ACEC. In order to adequately protect the 
relevant and important values in the proposed 40,180-acre ACEC, the BLM 
is evaluating whether to impose the following new restrictions:
    [cir] Retaining the lands in Federal ownership;
    [cir] Allowing facilities that provide resource protection;
    [cir] Enhancing the relevant and important (R&I) values and/or 
addressing human health and safety on a case-by-case basis;
    [cir] Imposing a linear ROW avoidance restriction;
    [cir] Excluding large site-type ROWs (greater than 5 acres);
    [cir] Restoring temporary disturbances to meet the standard BLM 
restoration standards; and
    [cir] Allowing land use authorizations and small site-type ROWs (5 
acres or less) on a case-by-case basis.


[[Page 62526]]


The proposed ACEC would be open to locatable mineral development and 
closed to solid leasable mineral development. Fluid leasable mineral 
development would be allowed with controlled surface use restrictions; 
the BLM may require that a proposed facility or activity be relocated 
by more than 200 meters from a proposed location as necessary to 
achieve the desired level of resource protection. Saleable mineral 
disposals that provide resource protection, enhancement of the R&I 
values and/or address human health and safety would be allowed on a 
case-by-case basis.
    The proposed ACEC would be closed to livestock grazing.
    The BLM would limit development of recreation facilities to those 
necessary for resource protection only. Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use 
would be limited to designated routes, and permitted non-speed 
recreation activities in the ACEC would require a desert tortoise 
spotter during the tortoise active season. In addition, the BLM would 
monitor the activities to ensure tortoises are not affected.
    For sensitive species, the BLM would allow prescribed fire use to 
meet resource objectives and habitat enhancement purposes in 
appropriate areas to support habitat recovery objectives and allow use 
of approved herbicides following ground-disturbing activities in order 
to implement invasive species control methods and support habitat 
recovery objectives. Military maneuvers would not be authorized. 
Activities that result in loss or degradation of tortoise habitat would 
require reclamation so that pre-disturbance conditions may be reached 
within a reasonable time frame; reclamation may include, but is not 
limited to, salvaging and transplanting cactus and yucca, recontouring 
of the area, scarifying compacted soil, adding soil amendments, 
seeding, and transplanting of seedling shrubs. Subsequent seeding or 
transplanting efforts may be required if monitoring indicates that the 
original effort was not successful. Alternative B and C would not 
designate an ACEC; however, the BLM would manage the area as part of an 
SRMA.
    The visual resource class change from Class III to Class IV would 
only apply to the project site and applies to alternatives B, C and D.
    The BLM will use and coordinate the NEPA comment process to satisfy 
the public involvement process for Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470(f)) as provided for in 36 CFR 
800.2(d)(3). Native American tribal consultations have been conducted 
in accordance with policy. Tribal concerns have been given due 
consideration, including impacts on Indian trust assets.
    The Draft Supplemental EIS analyzes four alternatives, including 
the no action alternative (Alternative A) and three action 
alternatives. Alternative B is Silver State's original proposal (as 
described in its Plan of Development dated July 2011). This alternative 
was introduced in initial scoping meetings and does not include 
perimeter roads. Alternative B would disturb up to 3,855 acres of 
Federal land. Alternative C would disturb up to 2,515 acres of Federal 
lands, and includes the project layout for Phases II and III that was 
previously evaluated in the 2010 Final EIS. Alternative D would disturb 
up to 3,091 acres of Federal land and is a modified layout of Silver 
State's original proposal (Alternative B above) to allow access through 
a historically used recreation route.
    The BLM is required to select a preferred alternative for the RMP 
amendment; this decision is separate from whether a preferred 
alternative is identified for the proposed project. The BLM preferred 
alternative for the RMP amendment identified in the Draft Supplemental 
EIS is to (1) Reduce the acreage of the SRMA by the project footprint 
(if approved) and (2) To change the VRM class from VRM Class III to IV 
for the project footprint (if approved). There is no BLM preferred 
project alternative identified in the Draft Supplemental EIS so that 
the BLM can make best use of public input to reach an informed 
decision. Formal scoping for the project occurred from September 1 to 
October 31, 2011 (74 FR 31306). The BLM received a total of 55 comment 
submissions during the scoping period, identifying 201 issues. The 
comments identified concerns in a broad range of categories, including 
OHV access; recreation; socioeconomic resources; federally listed 
species and their habitat, including desert tortoise habitat and rare 
plants; surface water/storm runoff; alternatives for analysis; and 
cumulative impacts.
    Maps of the proposed project area and the alternatives being 
analyzed in the Draft Supplemental EIS are available at the BLM 
Southern Nevada District Office and the Southern Nevada BLM energy Web 
site cited above. Please note that public comments and information 
submitted including names, street addresses, and email addresses of 
persons who submit comments will be available for public review and 
disclosure at the above address during regular business hours (8 a.m. 
to 4 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Authority:  40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10, 43 CFR 16.

Vanessa Hice,
Assistant Field Manager, Division of Lands.
[FR Doc. 2012-25288 Filed 10-12-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-HC-P