[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 204 (Friday, October 21, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72821-72823]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-25404]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLORW00000.L51010000.ER0000.LVRWH09H0570.16XL5017AP, HAG 16-0131; 
WAOR65753]


Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Proposed Vantage to Pomona Heights 230 kV 
Transmission Line Project in Benton, Grant, Kittitas, and Yakima 
Counties, Washington

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Vantage to Pomona 
Heights 230 kilovolt (kV) Transmission Line Project (Project) and, by 
this notice, is announcing its availability.

DATES: The BLM will not issue a final decision on the proposed Project 
for a minimum of 30 days following the date the Environmental 
Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal 
Register.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final EIS have been sent to Federal, State, 
tribal and local governments, and public libraries in the Project area. 
The Final EIS and supporting documents are available electronically on 
the Project Web site at: http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/spokane/plans/vph230.php. Copies of the Final EIS are available for public inspection 
during normal business hours at the BLM office locations listed in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robin Estes, Vantage to Pomona Heights 
Final EIS Project Manager, at (541) 416-6728, by email at 
blm_or_vantage_pomona@blm.gov, or at the following address: BLM Spokane 
District Office, 1103 North Fancher Road, Spokane Valley, WA 99212-
1275. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 
to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS 
is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or 
question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during 
normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The project proponent, Pacific Power, filed 
Federal applications for rights-of-way (ROWs) with the BLM, the U.S. 
Department of the Army Joint Base Lewis-McChord Yakima Training Center 
(JBLM YTC), and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for 
construction, operation, and maintenance of a 230 kV transmission line 
from Pacific Power's Pomona Heights Substation located east of Selah, 
Washington, in Yakima County, to the Bonneville Power Administration 
(BPA) Vantage Substation located just east of the Wanapum Dam in Grant 
County, Washington. The project proponent's interest in the new line is 
to reduce the risk of service interruptions and ensure continued 
reliable, efficient, and coordinated service to the Yakima Valley.
    On January 4, 2013, the BLM released a Draft EIS for public review 
and comment. The Draft EIS analyzed nine alternative routes. As a 
result of the comments received at public meetings and submitted in 
writing during the Draft EIS comment period, the BLM, Pacific Power, 
and JBLM YTC met and identified a new alternative route, the New 
Northern Route (NNR) Alternative. This alternative, unlike the others 
analyzed in the Draft EIS is located largely on JBLM YTC land. As a 
result of the identification of this new alternative, the BLM 
determined that a Supplemental Draft EIS was required. On January 2, 
2015, the BLM released the Supplemental Draft EIS for public review and 
comment. Both the Draft EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS fully described 
the alternatives and analyzed their direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts, as well as mitigation measures that could offset those 
potential impacts.
    The BLM as the Lead Federal Agency is responsible for analyzing the 
effects of granting, granting with conditions, or denying Pacific 
Power's ROW applications submitted to the Federal agencies to 
construct, operate, and maintain a 230 kV transmission line, associated 
access roads, and other ancillary facilities. The JBLM YTC, 
Reclamation, BPA, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic 
Preservation,

[[Page 72822]]

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of 
Natural Resources (DNR), Washington State Department of Transportation 
(WSDOT), and Grant, Kittitas, and Yakima counties are Cooperating 
Agencies that assisted with the preparation of the Final EIS. Each of 
these Cooperating Agencies will subsequently make decisions related to 
the proposed Project within their respective jurisdictions.
    Pacific Power proposes to use a variety of transmission line 
structures depending on the terrain. These structures were all analyzed 
in the Draft EIS, the Supplemental Draft EIS, and the Final EIS. Most 
of the proposed transmission line would be constructed on H-frame wood 
pole structures between 65 and 90 feet tall and spaced approximately 
650 to 1,000 feet apart depending on terrain. In developed or 
agricultural areas, single wood or steel monopole structures would be 
used. The single pole structures would be between 80 and 110 feet tall 
and spaced approximately 400 to 700 feet apart. The ROW width for the 
H-frame structures and the single pole structures would be between 125 
to 150 feet, and 75 to 100 feet, respectively. Steel lattice structures 
approximately 200 feet tall would be used to span the 2,800-foot 
Columbia River crossing.
    The Final EIS addresses public comments received on both the Draft 
EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS, and considers the No Action Alternative 
and all nine of the action alternatives analyzed in the EIS documents. 
The nine action alternatives considered in the Final EIS range from 
40.5 miles to 66.8 miles in length. The action alternatives cross 
private lands, Federal land managed by the BLM, JBLM YTC, and 
Reclamation, and state land managed by WSDOT and DNR. Yakima, Kittitas, 
Benton, and Grant counties are crossed by the action alternatives 
considered in the Final EIS. The information presented in the Draft EIS 
and the Supplemental Draft EIS has been combined in the Final EIS for 
clarity, and resource data and analyses have been updated as necessary 
in order to provide full disclosure of anticipated impacts for all 
action alternatives.
    To provide maximum flexibility to the decision makers and 
incorporate all public review input from Cooperating Agencies and 
interested parties, all alternatives are available for consideration up 
to the issuance of decisions by the BLM and Cooperating Agencies. The 
BLM will document its decision in a Record of Decision (ROD). In the 
Final EIS, the Agency Preferred Alternative has been changed from 
Alternative D (presented in the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft 
EIS) to the New Northern Route (NNR) Alternative--Overhead Design 
Option. The NNR Alternative--Overhead Design Option has also been 
identified as the Environmentally Preferred Alternative. The change in 
Agency Preferred Alternative was based on the analysis contained in the 
Draft EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS, including information regarding 
economic, environmental, technical, and other factors; the preferences 
of the Cooperating Agencies and Tribal Representatives; and input 
received from the public via comments. The NNR Alternative would be 
40.5 miles in length, located primarily on Federal land, and would 
parallel Pacific Power's existing Pomona-Wanapum 230 kV transmission 
line for the majority of its length. The NNR Alternative would cross 
JBLM YTC on its north side for over 70 percent of its total length, 
Reclamation land east of the Columbia River, and BLM-managed land in 
the Yakima River Canyon Management Area. The NNR Alternative would also 
cross WSDOT and Grant County PUD-managed lands and private lands, and 
would be located in Yakima, Kittitas, and Grant counties.
    The EIS documents fully describe the alternatives and identify 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts as well as mitigation measures 
that could avoid, mitigate, or offset potential impacts. To minimize 
the amount and significance of the Project's impacts to Greater Sage-
grouse, a Framework for Development of a Greater Sage-grouse 
Compensatory Mitigation Plan (Mitigation Framework) was developed to 
address the residual impacts (i.e., the unavoidable impacts) to the 
Greater Sage-grouse, which may result from the proposed construction, 
maintenance, and operation of the Project. The Mitigation Framework 
will provide the specific direction for Pacific Power's development of 
a Greater Sage-grouse Compensatory Mitigation Plan (CMP). With the 
development and implementation of the CMP, Pacific Power would take the 
necessary steps to compensate for the Project's residual impacts in 
order to achieve a net conservation gain for the species and its 
habitat. The Mitigation Framework is included as appendices in the 
Final EIS.
    The BLM has consulted with the Federally recognized Confederated 
Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Colville Confederated 
Tribes, and with the non-Federally recognized Wanapum Band of Indians. 
The BLM will continue to consult with Indian tribes on a government-to-
government basis in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other 
policies. Tribal concerns, including impacts to trust assets and 
potential impacts to cultural resources, have been given due 
consideration. The BLM also continues to work with the State and 
Federal agencies and consulting tribes regarding development of a 
Programmatic Agreement (PA) that outlines how the Federal agencies will 
comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for 
this undertaking. A draft of the PA is included as an appendix to the 
Final EIS. Federal, state, and local agencies, along with tribes and 
other stakeholders that may be interested in or affected by the 
proposed Project were invited to participate in the scoping process and 
comment on the Draft EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS. Major issues 
brought forward during the scoping process that were addressed in the 
Draft EIS and Supplemental Draft EIS and have been carried forward in 
the Final EIS include:
     Land use conflicts and effects on agricultural operations 
and property values;
     Effects on wildlife habitat, plants, and animals including 
threatened, endangered, and sensitive species (especially Greater Sage-
grouse);
     Potential effects to JBLM YTC military training 
operations;
     Effects to visual resources and existing viewsheds;
     Effects to cultural resources and traditional cultural 
properties;
     Effects to soils and water from surface-disturbing 
activities;
     Social and economic effects;
     Management and control of invasive plant species; and
     Public health and safety.
    Comments received on the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft EIS 
were considered, and document revisions were incorporated as 
appropriate into the Final EIS.
    The BLM decision on the Project: The BLM will consider information 
contained in the Final EIS when deciding whether to grant, grant with 
modifications, or deny Pacific Power's Application for ROW across BLM-
managed lands. The BLM's decision will be documented in its ROD.
    Copies of the Final EIS are available for public inspection during 
normal business hours at the following BLM offices:
     Bureau of Land Management, Wenatchee Field Office, 915 
Walla Walla Ave., Wenatchee, Washington; and
     Bureau of Land Management, Spokane District Office, 1103 
N. Fancher Rd., Spokane Valley, Washington.


[[Page 72823]]


    Authority:  40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10

Linda Clark,
Spokane District Manager and Authorizing Officer.
[FR Doc. 2016-25404 Filed 10-20-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-33-P