BLM looks at enviro impacts of Defense Dept. changes for SunZia project

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine whether newly identified measures to mitigate potential impacts caused by the proposed SunZia Southwest Transmission Line Project to military operations and readiness activities require the BLM to prepare a supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which the BLM published in June 2013.

The mitigation proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) would involve the burial of three segments that total approximately 5 miles of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Line Project within the area identified as the “call up area” north of the White Sands Missile Range along and within the preferred alternative corridor analyzed in the Final EIS. A notice by BLM to be published in the Nov. 28 Federal Register announces the opening of a 30-day public comment period for the EA.

SunZia Transmission LLC proposes to construct, operate, and maintain two parallel overhead 500-kV transmission lines located on Federal, State, and private lands from the proposed SunZia East Substation in Lincoln County, New Mexico, to the existing Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County, Arizona. If approved, the length of the transmission lines would range from 460 miles to over 500 miles depending on which route alignment is selected. The project has the potential to add 3,000 MW to 4,500 MW of electric capacity to the region.

In June 2013, the BLM published a Notice of Availability for the Final EIS in the Federal Register. Following the publication of the Final EIS, the DOD raised objections to the BLM’s Preferred Alternative Route through the “call-up area.” On May 27, 2014, the DOD proposed mitigation measures that, if adopted, would address the DOD’s prior objections to the SunZia project by resolving potential impacts to military operations and readiness activities, including the burial of three segments of the proposed transmission line for approximately 5 miles in the “call-up area.” In response to DOD’s proposal, the BLM has prepared an EA to examine whether the mitigation proposal requires the BLM to prepare a supplement to the Final EIS.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.