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Forest Service Designates Corridors for Gas Production, Transmission

The Agriculture Department's U.S. Forest Service has issued a record of decision (ROD) designating energy corridors in the West as preferred locations for oil and natural gas production, hydrogen pipelines and electricity transmission and distribution lines.

The notice, which was published in the Federal Register Tuesday, said the ROD designates approximately 990 miles of energy corridors on National Forest System lands in 10 western states for energy activities and proposed facilities. The decision takes effect April 23.

The Forest Service ROD specifically amends 38 land management plans for national forests in 10 of 11 western states. The Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management are expected to announce a similar decision amending their respective resource management plans, according to the notice.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the secretaries of agriculture, defense, energy and interior to designate corridors on federal lands in 11 western states for energy-related activities. The 11 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The Forest Service said it did not designate any corridors in New Mexico.

The energy corridors, which typically will be 3,500 feet wide, "are located to avoid, to the maximum extent possible, significant, known environmental resources. The corridors are designated considering potential renewable energy development in the West, which is currently constrained in part by a lack of transmission capacity," the notice said.

The corridors will "provide pathways for future long-distance energy transmission that will help to relieve [that] congestion, improve reliability and enhance the national electric grid," the Forest Service said.

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