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New guidance to protect enviornment

WAPA's Media Line: 720-962-7411

​For immediate release: April 22, 2015
Contact: Jennifer Neville, 720-962-7050, mediarelations@wapa.gov

Federal agencies team up to strengthen environmental protection while developing wind energy resources in the Upper Great Plains

LAKEWOOD, Colo. —The Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teamed up to develop an innovative, standardized and streamlined environmental review process for wind energy projects. The Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement allows wind developers in the Upper Great Plains to address specific environmental concerns in a consistent way.  

“This is an exciting development, just in time for Earth Day,” said WAPA CEO and Administrator Mark Gabriel. “Signing off on the final environmental review today is encouraging for the environment, energy industry and government. The proposed guidance will ensure strong environmental protection of our natural resources and support development of renewable, clean energy options.”Federal agencies team up to strengthen environmental protection

The suite of conservation measures proposed in the PEIS would ensure comprehensive natural resource protection for proposed projects. It will provide site-specific information that will help developers avoid areas of higher environmental sensitivity and focus on areas where wind energy projects would be more compatible. The proposed process applies to wind energy projects in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota that would interconnect to WAPA’s transmission facilities or require the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider an easement exchange to accommodate placement of project facilities.

“We are cutting through the red tape. The need for more renewable energy sources in the west continues to grow, which calls for a smarter way to conduct our environmental review process,” said Gabriel. “The Programmatic EIS will help developers minimize the impacts of their wind energy projects, and allow WAPA to complete NEPA processes faster with no loss of quality or protection of natural resources.”

WAPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service will submit a notice of availability for the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy Programmatic Final EIS to the Federal Register. Then the two agencies will issue separate Records of Decision no sooner than a month after the announcement based on the Final EIS and the agencies’ proposed actions. Once the Record of Decision is approved, then the PEIS will be ready for implementation for wind energy projects within WAPA’s Upper Great Plains region.

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