WAPA’s Environmental Planning and Protection Program identifies, analyzes and mitigates impacts from major Federal maintenance and construction projects. The program focuses on the following topics:
National Environmental Policy Act Analysis
Under the National Environmental Protection Act, Federal agencies must consider the potential environmental consequences of their proposals, document the analysis and make this information available to the public for comment before taking action. WAPA complies with Department of Energy regulations for implementing NEPA.
Most routine maintenance activities and contract actions do not have a significant effect on the environment and are excluded from NEPA analysis under a categorical exclusion. These categorical exclusions are posted on the Regional Web sites to promote transparency and openness. Actions that may have environmental impacts require an environmental assessment and a detailed analysis to determine the extent and severity of the impacts. WAPA prepares environmental impact statements for actions that have significant impacts or consequences to the environment or human health.
Regional environment pages:
WAPA performs environmental analysis for internal actions that stem from construction and maintenance of WAPA’s electrical system and transmission lines. Vegetation management along transmission lines, transmission line upgrades, access road maintenance or construction and substation maintenance or expansion are among the actions that call for environmental analysis.
Under WAPA’s interconnection requirements, applicants requesting interconnection must undergo an environmental review for their proposed projects.
To learn more about WAPA projects and our efforts to comply with DOE regulations, see Interconnection Projects.
Cultural and historic resource protection
Under the National Historic Preservation Act, WAPA must consider the effects of any WAPA undertaking on cultural resources. Other agencies, tribes, state and tribal historic preservation offices and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation assist WAPA in identifying cultural resources, determining their eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places and determining the effect of an action on an eligible resource.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, E.O. 13084, E.O. 13007, E.O. 13175, National Historic Preservation Act and the Department of Energy Indian Policy require WAPA to consult with interested tribes on WAPA's actions. WAPA works with tribes to identify traditional cultural properties, traditional use areas and sacred sites to avoid, protect, provide access to, or mitigate effects from WAPA’s actions.
Whenever possible, it is WAPA’s policy to protect cultural resources on our fee-owned lands, leased lands and rights-of-way. WAPA works closely with land-managing agencies and tribes to develop strategies for avoiding or mitigating impact to cultural resources.
Endangered species protection
The Endangered Species Act requires every Federal agency to ensure that any action it authorizes, funds or carries out in the United States or on the high seas is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse change in Critical Habitat.
Prior to undertaking a project, WAPA obtains a list of Federally protected, proposed and candidate species that may inhabit the project area. WAPA determines if one or more of those species or Critical Habitat is present and if the project would affect the species or habitat. Based on the conclusion, WAPA must prepare a Biological Assessment of the proposed action and formally consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If the proposed action is “not likely to adversely affect” the species or habitat, WAPA requests the USFWS’s concurrence with this determination.
Migratory bird protection
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects nearly all bird species that occur in WAPA's service area. The Act requires a permit to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, possess, sell, . . . any part, nest, eggs, or product thereof . . .” of any birds listed in the regulations. The Eagle Protection Act provides the same protection to bald and golden eagles.
WAPA designs its transmission lines to eliminate or minimize the possibility of birds being killed by electrocution or collision. When birds or their nests create a safety hazard for line crews or interfere with reliable transmission, WAPA obtains permits to remove or relocate empty nests.
Our nonprofit customers depend on their Federal power allocations for significant portions of their delivered product. WAPA must constantly balance our obligation to customers with our responsibility as a Federal agency to provide good environmental stewardship. Our Resource Protection Program protects our ability to provide our customers with their allocations.
The program consists of two basic, interdependent components. The first is protecting the generation resource. WAPA does this through efficient operations and environmental regulations that benefit natural resources and reduce impact on power generation.
The second component is ensuring healthy rivers and streams. Participating in river basin-wide and site-specific, stakeholder-driven, environmental protection programs such as the Adaptive Management Program for Glen Canyon Dam Operations and the Upper Colorado River Recovery Program enhances this aspect of WAPA’s program.
These measures protect WAPA’s hydropower resource while meeting Federal obligations under the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Clean Water Act, Grand Canyon Protection Act, and others.