The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is offering a new environmental review process that is expected to reduce the time it takes to review wind project proposals in six Midwestern states known for favorable wind conditions.
WAPA published a record of decision in the Federal Register, notifying the public that the organization will offer the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as an option to support future wind project environmental reviews in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota that propose to interconnect to WAPA's transmission facilities.
Co-led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the programmatic EIS and accompanying programmatic biological assessment build on years of knowledge and practices developed in previous wind projects to identify common characteristics and environmental impacts of wind projects in the area. The EIS details a series of mitigation measures it recommends for project proponents to address in their project planning before starting an environmental review.
Then, project-specific environmental analyses, either environmental assessments or streamlined EISs, would tier off the analyses in the programmatic EIS.
The programmatic EIS allows proposed wind farms to address environmental concerns in a consistent, thorough and transparent manner. This effort protects the region's wildlife resources while simultaneously supporting the president's ‘all of the above’ energy strategy – a win-win for clean energy and the environment.
According to WAPA, the FWS will issue a separate record of decision.