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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Northwest  |  Topic: BLM Director denies the Governor of Idaho's recommendations /Greater Sage-Grouse « previous next »
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Author Topic: BLM Director denies the Governor of Idaho's recommendations /Greater Sage-Grouse  (Read 365 times)
Peter Vahry
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« on: November 14, 2013, 02:53:46 am »

BLM Director's Response to the Idaho Governor's Appeal of the BLM
Idaho State Director's Governor's Consistency Review Determination

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is publishing this notice
to explain why the BLM Director is denying the Governor of Idaho's
recommendations regarding the Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments
analyzed in the Gateway West Final Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Amme, Acting Division Chief for
Decision Support, Planning and NEPA, telephone 202-912-7289; address
1849 C Street NW., Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20240; email
bamme@blm.gov. 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. A copy of the Gateway West Final EIS and
Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments is available on the BLM Wyoming Web
site at: http://www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/cfodocs/gateway_west/index.html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April, 26, 2013, the BLM released the
Gateway West Final EIS and Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments. On June
27, 2013, the Governor of Idaho (Governor) submitted a Governor's
Consistency Review and Finding of Inconsistency for the Gateway West
Final EIS and Proposed Land Use Plan Amendments (Finding) to the BLM
Idaho State Director (State Director). The State Director determined
the Governor's Finding was outside the scope of the Governor's
Consistency Review process and did not accept the Governor's
recommendations. A written response was sent to the Governor on July
26, 2013, addressing the issues raised in the Governor's Finding.
    On August 23, 2013, the Governor appealed the State Director's
decision not to accept his recommendations to the BLM Director. The BLM
Director issued a final response to the Governor affirming the State
Director's decision. Pursuant to 43 CFR 1610.3-2, the substantive
portions of the Director's response to the Governor are printed as
follows:
    ``With regard to your Greater Sage-Grouse Plan concerns, your
letter did not identify inconsistencies between your Plan and any of
the BLM proposed land use plan amendments for the Gateway West
Transmission Project. The regulations that provide for the Governor's
consistency review process at 43 CFR 1610.3-2, require BLM to ensure
that resource management plans or plan amendments `are consistent with
officially approved or adopted' State and local government resource
related plans, and policies and programs in those plans so long as the
plans `are also consistent with the purposes, policies and programs of
Federal laws and regulations applicable to public lands.' The
regulations further provide the Governor of the State involved in a
proposed plan or amendment to identify inconsistencies between State or
local plans and the proposed plan or amendment and provide
recommendations to the BLM State Director. The consistency review
submitted by the Governor must identify, with specificity, how a
proposed plan amendment is inconsistent with specific State or local
plans. If the State Director denies such recommendations, the Governor
is afforded an opportunity to appeal the BLM State Director's denial of
recommendations to the BLM Director pursuant to 43 CFR 1610.3-2(e).
    ``Your letter to the BLM State Director and your appeal do not meet
the regulatory requirements by specifically identifying inconsistencies
between the Greater Sage-Grouse Plan and the proposed land use plan
amendments in the Gateway West Transmission Project FEIS. Your appeal
only generally states that your Plan, which you submitted to the BLM on
July 1, 2013, is inconsistent with the Gateway West National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The scope of the Governor's
consistency review process is narrow. It

[[Page 68467]]

is limited to the proposed land use plan amendment associated with the
Gateway West Project and does not include the remainder of the project
application or wholesale challenges to impacts analyzed in the FEIS.
The absence of any identification of a specific inconsistency supports
my decision to deny the recommendations in your appeal.
    ``Your appeal also requests clarification of BLM Idaho's statement
that your Greater Sage-Grouse Plan was `not sufficiently final' to be
considered in the FEIS. While the Plan may represent a final proposal
from you, the larger Greater Sage-Grouse planning effort being
undertaken by the BLM in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and other states, including Idaho, is not yet final. The Idaho
BLM State Director was attempting to explain that the Greater Sage-
Grouse planning effort and the Gateway West Transmission Project
represented two separate and distinct processes. Your plan is one of
two co-preferred alternatives being fully analyzed in the Idaho and
Southwestern Montana Greater Sage-Grouse Draft Resource Management Plan
Amendment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). As we have
discussed in person, the BLM is very committed to continuing to work
with the State of Idaho on Greater Sage-Grouse to meet our shared
goals. We have appreciated your efforts to develop a thoughtful and
detailed alternative.
    ``With respect to Idaho's Local Land Use Planning Act, your letter
to the BLM Idaho State Director and your appeal again do not
specifically identify inconsistencies between local comprehensive plans
and the proposed land use plan amendments for the Gateway West
Transmission Project. Instead, you generally state that local counties
have jurisdiction over the siting of utility transmission corridors,
and that these local governments have comprehensive planning and zoning
plans. You suggest that the local governments prefer that transmission
siting occur on Federal land. Finally, you suggest that the BLM's
review process for the Gateway West Transmission Project lacked
meaningful public involvement. No specific inconsistencies between
proposed land use plan amendments for the Gateway West Transmission
Project and State or local plans were identified as required under BLM
regulations, and thus, I am denying your consistency appeal as it
relates to Idaho's Local Land Use Planning Act.
    ``The BLM has taken considerable steps to coordinate with the local
counties. In fact, the BLM coordinated extensively with local
governments in the development of alternatives that crossed their
jurisdictions, including meetings with the Cities of Melba and Kuna and
various counties. Additionally, the BLM recognizes that after the
Record of Decision is signed, the individual counties have authority
under Idaho's Local Land Use Planning Act to adjust the final location
for the portions of each proposed action or alternative that are
located on non-federal land.
    ``After careful consideration, it is my conclusion that the appeal
has not identified where the proposed plan amendments are inconsistent
with specific provisions of approved or adopted resource-related State
or local policies and programs. Therefore, I affirm the BLM Idaho State
Director's response to your Finding of Inconsistency and deny the
appeal.''

    Authority: 43 CFR 1610.3-2(e).

Michael D. Nedd,
Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management.
[FR Doc. 2013-27262 Filed 11-13-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-22-P

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