West-wide Energy Corridor Information Center
This website is the online center for public information for the designated Section 368 West-wide Energy Corridors.
The United States Department of Energy, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and United States Department of Defense (the Agencies) issued a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) on November 16, 2007 and a Final PEIS on November 20, 2008 that evaluated issues associated with the designation of energy corridors on federal lands in eleven Western states. The PEIS identified potential corridors; evaluated effects of potential future development within designated corridors; identified mitigation measures for such effects; and developed Interagency Operating Procedures (IOPs) applicable to planning, construction, operation, and decommissioning of future projects within the corridors.
Based upon the information and analyses developed in the PEIS, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture signed Records of Decision (RODs) in 2009 designating Section 368 corridors by amending land and resource management plans on lands administered by their respective agencies in the eleven Western states.
The designation of energy transport corridors in land and resource management plans identified the preferred locations for development of energy transport projects on lands administered by the Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These locations were selected to avoid significant known resource and environmental conflicts, promote renewable energy development in the West, improve reliability, relieve congestion, and enhance the capability of the national grid to deliver electricity.
The IOPs are intended to expedite the permitting process; provide coordinated, consistent interagency management procedures for permitting rights of way (ROWs) within the corridors; and identify mandatory requirements for future projects.
In July 2009, the Wilderness Society, BARK, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Western Resource Advocates, Western Watersheds Project, and County of San Miguel, Colorado (Plaintiffs) filed a complaint against the Agencies challenging the PEIS, DOI and FS RODs, and associated energy corridor designations (Wilderness Society, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 3:09-cv-03048-JW [N.D. Cal.]) pursuant to the Energy Policy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. In July 2012, the BLM, FS, Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Justice developed a Settlement Agreement with the Plaintiffs that contains specific actions to resolve the challenges in the Complaint.
The four principal components of the Settlement Agreement require the Agencies to:
- Complete an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) addressing periodic corridor reviews;
- Update agency guidance;
- Update agency training; and
- Complete a corridor study.
The Settlement Agreement also identifies specific Section 368 "Corridors of Concern" and directs the agencies to consider five general principles for the revision, deletion, or addition of future corridors. For more information about the Settlement Agreement, including timeline, documents, implementation of periodic reviews, agency guidance and training, and the corridor study, see the Settlement Agreement section.
Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (the Act), Public Law 109-58 (H.R. 6), enacted August 8, 2005, directed the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and the Interior (the Agencies) to designate under their respective authorities corridors on federal land in 11 Western States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) for oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines and electricity transmission and distribution facilities (energy corridors).
Section 368 required the Agencies to conduct any "environmental reviews" necessary to complete the designation of Section 368 energy corridors. The designation of Section 368 energy corridors does not result in any direct impacts on the ground that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Nevertheless, the Agencies prepared a PEIS from 2006 to 2008 to conduct a detailed environmental analysis at the programmatic level and to integrate NEPA at the earliest possible time.
The evaluation of future project-related environmental impacts must await site-specific proposals and the required site-specific environmental review. A quantifiable and accurate evaluation of impacts at the local project level can be made only in response to an actual proposed energy project, when a proposal for an action with specific environmental consequences exists.