BLM solar plan comment period about to end

The comment period is about to close (end of Thursday, April 18, 2024) for a programmatic EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) that clears the way, but does not finalize, permission to develop commercial solar installations on Bureau of Land Management lands in the 11 western states. It is likely that regulatory officials will be predisposed to approving solar developments on the identified lands. This is a revision of an Obama era policy that applied to selected areas within certain states. In addition to expanding the geographic scope of the new programmatic EIS, the preferred alternative adds some stipulations and omits others. The primary omitted stipulation is that development is no longer restricted to previously disturbed lands.

The preferred alternative (#3) restricts programmatic approval to developments in areas within 10 miles of transmission lines, on lands with slopes of less than 10%, and excludes areas of wilderness or critical wildlife habitat. However, candidate wilderness areas are not excluded. This alternative fast-tracks solar developments on approximately 22 million acres, compared to the projected need by 2045 of 700,000 acres.

One the five considered alternatives, Alternative 5, reinstates the Obama-era stipulation that programmatic approval extends only to previously disturbed lands. Alternative 5 identifies 8.3 million acres for solar development. With minor exceptions, Alternative 5 does not infringe on candidate wilderness areas.

At this date, comments need to be submitted online at: ( Find the link “How to get involved” in the second paragraph of this page. This will open another page, with a left sidebar, of which the last choice is: “Participate Now”. Click on the Participate Now choice. There are four “Participate Now” buttons in the main body of page to which you are taken. I believe that the four buttons are intended to give four people the option of commenting simultaneously. Click on any of the four that are available and follow the prompts to submit your opinion on this matter.