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Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement planned for upper great plains wind development

Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Agencies) will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) [1] to evaluate the impacts of wind energy development in Western’s Upper Great Plains Region (all or parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and on the Service’s grassland and wetland easements in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. The PEIS also will identify mitigation strategies, standard construction practices, and best management practices; and establish a comprehensive environmental program for evaluating future projects.

The agencies invite interested parties to participate in the scoping process, both to identify alternatives and environmental issues to be analyzed in depth and to eliminate from detailed study those alternatives and environmental issues that are not feasible or pertinent. The scoping process is intended to involve all interested agencies (federal, state, county, and local), public interest groups, businesses, and members of the public. The public scoping period started with the publication of the Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on September 11, 2008, and will end November 10, 2008.

The public is encouraged to provide information and comments on issues it believes the Agencies should address in the PEIS. The agencies request information and comments on resources in the Upper Great Plains that development of wind energy may affect. Comments can address broad topics or be restricted to specific areas of concern.

There are three ways to submit comments or suggestions on the scope of the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy PEIS:

* Electronically, using the online comment form.
* Regular mail
* Public scoping meetings (written or oral comments – see below)

Written comments or suggestions on the scope of the PEIS can be mailed to:

Upper Great Plains Wind Energy Programmatic EIS Scoping
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Ave. – EVS/900
Argonne IL 60439

Individual respondents may request confidentiality. For written comments or comments received through the Web site, respondents can request to withhold names or street addresses, except for the city or town, from public view or from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Such a request must be stated prominently at the beginning of the comment. We will honor requests to the extent allowed by law. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.

Written and oral comments will be given equal weight, and the Agencies will consider all comments that are received or postmarked by November 10, 2008, in defining the scope of this PEIS. Comments received or postmarked after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.

Public scoping meetings for the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy PEIS will be held in three cities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana in September and October 2008. The public will have the opportunity to submit oral and/or written comments at these meetings. Dates and locations for the public scoping meetings are available on the Public Scoping Meetings page.

Public scoping meetings for the PEIS have been set as follows:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Holiday Inn Sioux Falls City Centre
100 West 8th Street
Sioux Falls, SD

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Radisson Hotel Bismarck
605 East Broadway Avenue
Bismarck, ND

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Quality Inn Homestead Park
2036 Overland Avenue
Billings, MT

The Agencies invite any federal, state, or local agency or tribal government with jurisdiction by law or special expertise in wind energy development and/or electricity transmission operation to be a cooperating agency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has already indicated that it plans to participate as a cooperating agency. The RUS point of contact for this PEIS is:

Barbara R. Britton
Environmental Protection Specialist
Rural Utilities Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Mail Stop 1571, Washington, DC 20250
Telephone: (202) 720-1414; Fax: (202) 720-0820
email Barbara.Britton@wdc.usda.gov

Other agencies or state governments may become cooperating agencies at a later date.
Future Public Involvement Opportunities

Scoping is one phase of the NEPA process. It is intended to give interested parties the chance to comment on a proposed action and to offer suggestions about the issues to be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping is the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to provide input on the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy PEIS. The public and other interested parties will be invited to provide comments on the draft PEIS when it is published.

For more information on public participation in the NEPA process, please consult the following publications:
A Citizen’s Guide to the NEPA: Having Your Voice Heard [2] (PDF, 932 KB)
DOE, NEPA, and You Brochure [3] (PDF, 1.46 MB)

For information on the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy PEIS process, contact:

Mr. Mark Wieringa
Western Area Power Administration
P.O. Box 281213
Lakewood, CO 80228–8213
Telephone (800) 336-7288; Fax (720) 962-7263