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Agencies Propose 6,000 Miles of Energy Corridors in West

Four federal agencies last Wednesday issued a final programmatic environmental impact statement (final PEIS) proposing to designate more than 6,000 miles of energy transport corridors on federal lands in 11 western states.

The proposed corridors would facilitate future siting of oil, natural gas and hydrogen pipelines, as well as electricity transmission and distribution facilities on federal lands in the West to meet the region's growing energy demands while mitigating potential harmful effects to the environment, according to the final PEIS, which was prepared by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management and the departments of energy (DOE), agriculture and defense. The final PEIS comes about one year after the draft (see NGI, Nov. 12, 2007).

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 called for the energy corridors to be designated on federal lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

"Designating energy corridors using a PEIS allows the participating agencies to mitigate environmental effects and reduce conflicts with other uses of federal land. The results of this work will speed the processing of siting energy infrastructure on federal lands in the West," said Assistant Secretary of the Interior C. Stephen Allred.

Energy transport corridors are agency-preferred locations where pipelines and transmission lines may be sited and built, according to DOE. Having a network of corridors that could accommodate transportation systems for multiple energy types potentially minimizes the proliferation of energy utility rights-of-way (ROW) on the federal landscape, the agency noted.

An estimated 82% of the corridors analyzed in the final PEIS are located on BLM-managed lands, while 16% are on the Agriculture Department's Forest Service lands. The rest of the proposed corridor segments are on lands managed by Interior's Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service or by the Department of Defense. Individual projects proposed for these corridors would undergo further, project-specific environmental analysis before being granted permits or ROW.

The final PEIS is at http://corridoreis.anl.gov. It was to be published in the Federal Register Friday (Nov. 28).

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