[Federal Register: November 23, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 224)]
[Notices]               
[Page 61169-61171]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr23no09-83]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[CACA 048810 and CACA 048811, LLCAD06000 L5101 ER0000 LVRBW09B26000]

 
Notice of Intent To Prepare Two Environmental Impact Statements/
Staff Assessments for the Proposed Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar 
Millennium Palen and Blythe Solar Power Plants, Riverside County, CA 
and Possible Land Use Plan Amendments

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) of 1969, as amended, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976, as amended, and the California Environmental Quality Act 
(CEQA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Palm Springs South Coast 
Field Office, Palm Springs, California, together with the California 
Energy Commission (CEC), intend to prepare two Environmental Impact

[[Page 61170]]

Statements (EIS)/Staff Assessments (SAs), which may include an 
amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan (1980, 
as amended) and by this notice are announcing the beginning of the 
scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues.

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the Draft 
EIS/SAs and possible plan amendment. Comments on issues may be 
submitted in writing until December 23, 2009. The dates and locations 
of scoping meetings, information hearings, and site visits will be 
announced at least 15 days in advance through local media and the BLM 
Web site at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmsprings.html and the 
CEC Web sites at http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solar_
millennium_palen/index.html and http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/
solar_millennium_blythe/index.html. To be considered in the Draft 
EIS/SAs, all comments must be received prior to the close of the 
scoping period or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is 
later. We will provide additional opportunities for public 
participation upon publication of the Draft EIS/SAs.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on issues and planning criteria 
related to the Proposed Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Palen 
and Blythe Solar Power Plants EIS/SAs and CDCA Plan amendment by any of 
the following methods:
     E-mail: asolomon@energy.state.ca.us, 
CAPSSolarPalen@blm.gov, or CAPSSolarBlythe@blm.gov.
     Fax: (760) 833-7199.
     Mail or hand delivery: Alan Solomon, Project Manager, 
Siting, Transmission and Environmental Protection Division, CEC, 1516 
Ninth Street, MS-15, Sacramento, California 95814 or Holly L. Roberts, 
Project Manager, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, BLM, 1201 Bird 
Center Drive, Palm Springs, California 92262.
    The administrative record of this proposal may be examined at the 
Palm Springs South Coast Field Office during normal business hours.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information or to have 
your name added to our mailing list, contact Alan Solomon, CEC project 
manager at telephone (916) 653-8236, or address 1516 Ninth Street, MS-
15, Sacramento, CA 95814, or e-mail asolomon@energy.state.ca.us; or 
Allison Shaffer, BLM project manager at telephone (760) 833-7100, or 
address Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, BLM, 1201 Bird Center 
Drive, Palm Springs, California 92262, or e-mail CAPSSolarPalen@blm.gov 
or CAPSSolarBlythe@blm.gov. Information on participating in the CEC's 
review of the project may also be obtained through the CEC's Public 
Advisor's Office at (916) 654-8236 or toll free in California, (800) 
822-6228, or by e-mail: publicadviser@energy.state.ca.us. News media 
inquiries should be directed to the CEC's media office at (916) 654-
4989, or mediaoffice@energy.state.ca.us. You can also subscribe to an 
email notification list of all notices at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/
listservers.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium 
(CESSM) has applied for two separate right-of-way (ROW) authorizations 
to construct and operate the Palen and Blythe solar thermal power 
plants in eastern Riverside County, California with an expected 
combined capacity of 1,452 megawatts (MW) using solar parabolic trough 
generating stations. Approximately 10,100 acres of BLM-administered 
public land are needed to develop the two projects.
    Pursuant to the BLM's CDCA Plan, sites associated with power 
generation or transmission not identified in the CDCA Plan will be 
considered through the plan amendment process. Under Federal law, the 
BLM is responsible for processing requests for ROWs to authorize solar 
projects and associated transmission lines and other associated 
facilities on the land it manages. Under California law, the CEC is 
responsible for reviewing applications for certification (AFC) filed 
for thermal power plants over 50 MW. The CEC also serves as lead agency 
for the environmental review of such projects under CEQA. On August 24, 
2009, CESSM submitted to the CEC AFCs for the Palen and Blythe 
projects.
    The Palen site is 10 miles east of Desert Center, California and a 
half mile north of Interstate 10; the Blythe site is eight miles west 
of Blythe, California and three miles north of Interstate 10. The Palen 
facility will be constructed in two phases, while the Blythe facility 
will be constructed in four phases.
    The proposed Palen Solar Power Project would consist of two 
parabolic trough solar thermal power plants, each of which would have a 
solar field comprised of rows of parabolic mirrors focusing solar 
energy on collector tubes. The tubes would carry heated oil to a 
boiler, which would then send steam to a turbine. The two phases would 
generate approximately 484 MW of electricity. The two power plants 
would share administrative buildings, parking areas, maintenance 
buildings, switch yards, bioremediation areas, wastewater treatment 
facilities, access and maintenance roads, and perimeter fencing. The 
project would also include a natural gas pipeline, communication lines, 
and a 230 kV transmission line. The total expected project footprint 
would be approximately 3,800 acres. During construction, the project 
would require approximately 1,100 acre-feet of water for dust control 
and soil compaction. During operation, the project would require 
approximately 300 acre-feet of water per year. CESSM proposes to use 
water from new wells.
    The proposed Blythe Solar Power Project would consist of four 
parabolic trough solar thermal power plants similar to the Palen 
project. The four power plants would generate approximately 968 MW of 
electricity. All four plants would share administrative buildings, 
parking areas, maintenance buildings, switch yards, bioremediation 
areas, wastewater treatment facilities, access and maintenance roads, 
and perimeter fencing. The project would also include a natural gas 
pipeline, communication lines, and a 500 kV transmission line. The 
total expected project footprint would be approximately 6,300 acres. 
During construction, the project would require approximately 3, 100 
acre feet of water for dust control and soil compaction. During 
operation, the project would require approximately 600 acre-feet of 
water per year. CESSM proposes to use water from new wells. If 
approved, both projects would begin construction in late 2010. The 
purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues 
that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including 
alternatives, and guide the process for developing the EISs. The BLM 
has identified the following preliminary issues: special area 
designations, air quality, biological resources, hazardous materials, 
recreation, cultural resources, water resources, geological resources, 
land use, noise, paleontological resources, public health, 
socioeconomics, soils, traffic and transportation, and visual 
resources.
    Authorization of these proposals may require amendment of the CDCA 
Plan. By this notice, the BLM is complying with requirements in 43 CFR 
1610.2(c) to notify the public of potential amendments to land use 
plans, subject to the findings of the EISs. If a land use plan 
amendment is necessary, the BLM will integrate the land use planning 
process with the NEPA process for these projects.
    The BLM will use the NEPA commenting process to satisfy the

[[Page 61171]]

public involvement process for Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f) as provided for in 36 CFR 
800.2(d)(3). Native American Tribal consultations will be conducted and 
Tribal concerns will be given due consideration, including impacts on 
Indian trust assets. Federal, State, and local agencies, along with 
Tribes and other stakeholders that may be interested or affected by the 
BLM's decision on this project, are invited to participate in the 
scoping process and, if eligible, may request or be requested by the 
BLM to participate as a cooperating agency.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 43 CFR 1610.2.

Tom Pogacnik,
Deputy State Director for Natural Resources, BLM California State 
Office.
[FR Doc. E9-27961 Filed 11-20-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-40-P