[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 90 (Friday, May 8, 2020)]
[Pages 27431-27432]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-09831]



Bureau of Indian Affairs

[201A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900 253G]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Southern Bighorn Solar Project on the Moapa River Indian 
Reservation, Clark County, Nevada

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as lead agency, in 
cooperation with the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians (Moapa Band), the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and other agencies, intend to prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate a 
photovoltaic (PV) solar energy generation and storage projects on the 
Moapa River Indian Reservation (Reservation) and collector lines and 
access roads located on the Reservation, Reservation lands administered 
by BLM, and BLM lands. This notice announces the beginning of the 
scoping process to solicit public comments and identify potential 
issues related to the EIS. It also announces that two live streaming 
events will be held where the project team will introduce the project 
and be available by internet and by phone to document and discuss 
potential issues, alternatives, and mitigation to be considered in the 

DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS or implementation of 
the proposal must arrive by 11:59 p.m. on June 8, 2020. The dates and 
times of the virtual public scoping meetings will be published in the 
Las Vegas Review-Journal and Moapa Valley Progress 15 days before the 
scoping meetings.

ADDRESSES: You may mail, email, or hand carry written comments to Mr. 
Chip Lewis, BIA Western Regional Office, 2600 North Central Avenue, 4th 
Floor Mailroom, Phoenix, Arizona 85004; telephone: (602) 379-6750; 
email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The proposed Federal action, taken under 25 
U.S.C. 415, is the BIA's approval of two solar energy ground leases and 
associated agreements entered into by the Moapa Band with 300MS 8me LLC 
and 425LM 8me LLC (Applicants), both subsidiaries of 8minute Solar 
Energy. The agreements provide for construction, operation and 
maintenance (O&M), and eventual decommissioning of the PV electricity 
generation and battery storage facilities located entirely on the 
Reservation, in Clark County Nevada. The PV electricity generation and 
battery storage facilities would be located on up to 3,600 acres of 
tribal trust land and would have a combined capacity of up to 400 
megawatts alternating current (MWac)--300 MWac for one project/phase, 
and 100 MWac for a second project/phase. Collector lines and access 
roads required for interconnection of the solar projects would be 
located on the Reservation, Reservation lands administered by the BLM, 
and BLM lands. Together, the proposed solar energy generation and 
storage facilities, collector lines, and other associated facilities 
will make up the two projects/phases of the Southern Bighorn Solar 
Project (SBSP). The proposed SBSP would require the BIA to approve a 
business lease and for both the BIA and the BLM to approve and 

[[Page 27432]]

rights-of-way (ROWs) for the electrical collector lines and access 
    The SBSP would be constructed on up to 3,600 acres located within a 
6,308-acre lease option area in Township (T) 16 South (S), Range (R) 64 
East (E) that includes all or parts of Sections 12-14, 22-27, and 33-
36; T16S R65E Sections 4-9, 16-18, 30, and 31; and T17S R64E Sections 
10-12, Mount Diablo Baseline and Meridian, Nevada. Primary access to 
the Project would be provided by I-15, North Las Vegas Boulevard, and 
an existing improved access road on Reservation lands, Reservation 
lands administered by the BLM, and BLM lands. The overhead collector 
lines would connect the solar projects to the substation(s) within the 
boundaries of the previously approved Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar 
Project. From there, the electricity generated would connect to the 
existing gen-tie line and be delivered to the regional electrical grid 
at NV Energy's Reid Gardner Substation.
    Construction of the 300MWac project/phase is expected to take 
approximately 14-16 months, and construction of the up to 100MWac 
project/phase is expected to take approximately 8-10 months. The two 
projects/phases may be constructed simultaneously or sequentially. The 
electricity generation and storage facilities are expected to be 
operated for up to 40 years under the terms of the leases. Major onsite 
facilities include multiple blocks of solar PV panels mounted on fixed 
tilt or tracking systems, pad mounted inverters and transformers, 
collector lines, up to 1,000 MW-hours of battery storage, access roads, 
and O&M facilities. Water will be needed during construction for dust 
control and a minimal amount will be needed during operations for 
administrative and sanitary water use and for panel washing. The water 
supply required for the Project would be leased from the Moapa Band.
    The purposes of the proposed Project are, among other things, to: 
(1) Provide a long-term, diverse, and viable economic revenue base and 
job opportunities for the Moapa Band; (2) assist Nevada and neighboring 
states to meet their State renewable energy needs; and (3) allow the 
Moapa Band, in partnership with the Applicant, to optimize the use of 
the lease site while maximizing the potential economic benefit to the 
    BIA will prepare the EIS in cooperation with the Moapa Band, BLM, 
Environmental Protection Agency, and possibly Nevada Department of 
Wildlife. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and 
National Park Service will provide input on the analysis. The resulting 
EIS will aim to (1) provide agency decision makers, the Moapa Band, and 
the general public with a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of 
the proposed Project and alternatives on the Reservation; (2) describe 
the cumulative impacts of increased development on the Reservation; and 
(3) identify and propose mitigation measures that would minimize or 
prevent significant adverse impacts. Consistent with these objectives, 
the EIS will analyze the proposed Project and appurtenant features, 
viable alternatives, and the No Action alternative. Other alternatives 
may be identified in response to issues raised during the scoping 
    The EIS will provide a framework for BIA and BLM to make 
determinations and to decide whether to take the aforementioned Federal 
actions. In addition, BIA will use and coordinate the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) commenting process to satisfy its 
obligations under 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 in accordance with policy, and 
tribal concerns will be given due consideration, including impacts on 
Indian trust assets. Other federal agencies may rely on the EIS to make 
decisions under their authority and the Moapa Band may also use the EIS 
to make decisions under their Tribal Environmental Policy Ordinance. 
USFWS will review the EIS for consistency with the Endangered Species 
Act, as amended, and other implementing acts, and may rely on the EIS 
to support its decisions and opinions regarding the Project.
    Issues to be addressed in the EIS analysis may include, but would 
not be limited to, Project impacts on water resources, biological 
resources, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources, 
Native American religious concerns, and aesthetics. In addition to 
those resource topics identified above, Federal, State, and local 
agencies, along with other stakeholders that may be interested or 
affected by the BIA's decision on the proposed Project, are invited to 
participate in the scoping process to identify additional issues to be 

Submission of Public Comments

    Please include your name, return address, and the caption ``EIS, 
Southern Bighorn Solar Project,'' on the first page of any written 
comments. You may also submit comments verbally during one of the 
virtual public scoping meeting presentations or provide written 
comments to the address listed above in the ADDRESSES section.
    Public scoping meetings will be held to further describe the 
Project and identify potential issues and alternatives to be considered 
in the EIS. To help protect the public and limit the spread of the 
COVID-19 virus, virtual public meetings will be held, where a short 
presentation will be made and team members present to discuss and 
answer questions. The PowerPoint presentation will be posted to the 
project website prior to the virtual meetings. Those who cannot live 
stream the presentation would be able to access the meeting 
presentation and could join by telephone. Additionally, the live 
presentation will be recorded and made accessible for viewing 
throughout the scoping period. The first public scoping meeting will be 
held in the afternoon by video and telephone conference and the second 
public scoping meeting will be held in the evening by video and 
telephone conference. The dates and times of the public scoping 
meetings will be included in notices to be published in the, Las Vegas 
Review-Journal and Moapa Valley Progress 15 days before the meetings.

Public Comment Availability

    Comments, including names and addresses of respondents, will be 
available for public review at the mailing address shown in the 
ADDRESSES section during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except holidays. Before including your address, 
phone number, email 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.


    This notice is published in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of the 
Council of Environmental Quality regulations and 43 CFR 46.235 of the 
Department of the Interior Regulations implementing the procedural 
requirements of the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and in accordance 
with the exercise of authority delegated to the Principal Deputy 
Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs by part 209 of the Department 

Tara Sweeney,
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2020-09831 Filed 5-7-20; 8:45 am]