2014–2022 Regional Reviews Archive
An overview of Regional Reviews, including corridor abstracts for public review, considerations identified in the Corridor Study; opportunities for public participation; and updates to the Regional Review process, when available.
The purpose of the Regional Reviews is to examine new relevant information and stakeholder input on the Section 368 energy corridors, including corridors of concern, and, based on this information, identify potential revisions, deletions, or additions to the corridors and identify possible changes to the IOPs.
The Regional Reviews were guided by the following corridor siting principles from the Settlement Agreement, to ensure that:
- Corridors are thoughtfully sited to provide maximum utility and minimum impact to the environment;
- Corridors promote efficient use of landscape for necessary development;
- Appropriate and acceptable uses are defined for specific corridors; and
- Corridors provide connectivity to renewable energy generation to the maximum extent possible, while also considering other generation, in order to balance the renewable sources and to ensure the safety and reliability of electricity transmission.
An interim step to the Agencies' considerations for potential corridor revisions, deletions or additions was the development of corridor abstracts, an initial analysis of the corridors. Corridor abstracts assisted the Agencies and the stakeholders in identifying specific environmental concerns and other challenges, such as pinch points, for each corridor. These abstracts provided a condensed record for each corridor. Stakeholders had the opportunity to review and comment on the abstracts and, subsequently, on any considerations identified by the Agencies. Any potential revisions, deletions, and additions to the corridors identified through the Regional Reviews will be considered by the BLM and USFS during subsequent land-use planning and environmental review processes.
Click a region on the map below to view Section 368 energy corridor abstracts.
In June 2013, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was entered into among the BLM, the USFS, and the DOE regarding regional reviews, including a review of the IOPs, for Section 368 energy corridors. The MOU included a Work Plan for conducting the Regional Reviews, which directed the Interagency Workgroup to examine the new relevant information, the Corridor Study, and stakeholder input, and based on this information, develop considerations for any potential revisions, deletions, or additions to the Section 368 energy corridors and the IOPs.
Considerations for Regional Reviews as Identified in the Corridor Study
As directed in the Work Plan, the Corridor Study was used to inform the Regional Reviews.
The questions below were identified in the Corridor Study as questions that the Agencies should ask during regional corridor reviews:
- What opportunities are available in each priority region to conduct co-location exercises (initiated at the pre-application process) to reduce bottlenecks and better ensure that multiple projects could be located in the same corridor?
- How can agencies within each priority region seek opportunities to site ROW projects parallel to corridor centerlines where feasible? Can targeted on-the-ground inspections be conducted during Regional Reviews to identify siting inefficiencies and siting opportunities?
- Would regional land use plan review and/or conducting targeted on-the-ground inspections assist in identifying existing or anticipated siting conflicts related to adjacent uses which may not be compatible with siting major linear infrastructure (e.g. oil and gas well pads, meteorological towers, substations, compressor stations, etc.)? What have agency offices considered to determine appropriate siting distances between linear infrastructure as well as buffer distances from non-linear structures and the corridors?
- What effect would implementing minimum spacing (consistent with accepted industry standards) between ROW projects have on corridors? For example, the 2012 WECC new Adjacent Transmission Circuits definition that reduced the separation distance between centerlines from 1,500 to 250 ft. Have agency offices explored opportunities to adopt spacing standards and/or seek to incentivize more efficient use of the corridors?
- Would revising corridors, where feasible, allow for more uniform corridor width? The study found a number of siting constraints which result in portions of corridors with reduced widths. Some of these "pinch points" were identified when corridors were originally designated in 2009 and others are the result of more recent siting constraints.
- What success have agencies had with engaging industry and other technical experts to explore challenges and opportunities related to implementing project design alternatives, such as expanded use of DC current where feasible, undergrounding portions of high-voltage cables where feasible, and use of tower types with reduced footprints and/or visually less intrusive as well as modified or emerging materials? What can agencies do to incentivize uses within corridors?
- Would mapping Section 368 energy corridors and authorized rights-of-way within the corridors through established standards for GIS data collection, analysis, and retention/tracking provide a benefit? Have the Agencies explored future opportunities to provide a simple and cost-effective platform to display corridor centerline locations, ROW authorizations, and environmental data for the 11 western states?
- What can be done to improve corridor connectivity across administrative jurisdictions? For instance, can BLM and USFS collaborate with Reclamation to identify and designate corridors across Reclamation-administered land to connect with existing designated segments? Could this process also be applied to other Federal and State agencies where gaps in corridors prevent corridor use?
- How should agencies update and expand education, training and guidance on Section 368 energy corridors, either on an intra-agency basis or inter-agency basis? The study found there is some confusion and/or a lack of understanding by some agency personnel regarding the Settlement Agreement requirements and the process for addressing use of Corridors of Concern as well as designating new corridors or revising and deleting corridors. There is similar confusion and/or misunderstanding with respect to implementing the IOPs. Some of this may be due to turnover in managers and staff since 2009.
- How can the USFS explore the challenges and opportunities to expand and improve siting projects on National Forests?
- Is there new and relevant information to incorporate since 2014? The Regional Reviews should include new and relevant information from 2015 and beyond to continue to seek further improvement of the corridors, to protect public lands and better serve the nation's energy needs. The timeframe considered for the Corridor Study was 2009 to 2014. Energy development and associated infrastructure are dynamic environments. Agency actions and public opinions regarding land uses and siting opportunities and constraints on federal lands constantly evolve and should be reflected in the Regional Reviews.
In addition to the questions listed above, the Corridor Study identified additional findings to consider in the Regional Reviews including:
- Although BLM Instruction Memorandum No. 2014-080 and USFS Interim Directive No. 2720-2014-2 provide guidance to the BLM and USFS regarding management of Section 368 energy corridors, there may be a need for better direction to reach the field level as well as clarification and training regarding revision of Section 368 energy corridors to improve their utility and purpose. Additional training at the BLM National Training Center, which is used by both the BLM and USFS, and national webinars could help bridge the information gap and could inform the Agencies about Section 368 energy corridors and each agency's policies.
- Regional Reviews should emphasize efforts by BLM and USFS line managers to utilize designated corridors, including Section 368 energy corridors, more effectively and to revise Section 368 energy corridors where appropriate through land use planning amendments and revisions. Revision can include relocation, adjustments in width or allowable use, agreements with other jurisdictions to promote continuity, and removal.
- The Regional Reviews should focus on identifying over-utilized corridors. On-the-ground field inspections and review of official government land records should be conducted as part of future Regional Reviews. A more intensive analysis of over- and under-utilized corridors can be completed with additional GIS information from BLM offices and National Forests coupled with on-the-ground inspections and data collection and analysis.
During the Regional Reviews the Agencies provided information to and solicit input from stakeholders, including state and local governments, federal agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, industry, and other interested persons.
Stakeholders were notified in advance of any meetings, webinars, or solicitations for input. Outreach included listening sessions, workshops, electronic town hall meetings, web postings, and other appropriate means.
For more information about stakeholder participation, see Public Involvement.