[Federal Register: August 20, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 162)]
[Notices]               
[Page 49215-49216]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20au08-78]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[MT924-5101-ER-E044, MTM 97296; IDI 35970]

 
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Mountain States Transmission Intertie Project in Montana and Idaho, 
Possible Land Use Plan Amendments, and Notice of Public Scoping 
Meetings

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gives notice of intent to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address potential 
effects of a proposed project by NorthWestern Energy to build and 
operate a new 500 kV electric transmission line requiring a special use 
permit, right-of-way grant, and/or temporary use permit for 
construction, operation, and maintenance of a 500kV electric 
transmission line and associated substation, including new access 
roads. The transmission line is known as the Mountain States 
Transmission Intertie (MSTI) Project. NorthWestern Energy's three 
project alternatives range from 390 to 430 miles in length, but 
additional alternatives or variations on alternatives may be developed 
through the environmental review process. Alternatives for the proposed 
transmission line would pass over private, state, and federally managed 
lands in Montana and Idaho. Federally managed lands include lands 
administered by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Sheep 
Experiment Station, and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Idaho National 
Laboratory. Authorization of this proposal may require the amendment of 
the BLM and the USFS land use plans (Forest Plans, Management Framework 
Plans, and Resource Management Plans).

DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process. Comments 
concerning the scope of the analysis should be received by October 10, 
2008. The BLM will host open houses in the following communities:

Montana

     September 9, 2008--Copper King Hotel, 4655 Harrison 
Avenue, Butte, Montana;
     September 10, 2008--Three Forks High School, 210 East 
Neal, Three Forks, Montana;
     September 11, 2008--University of Montana Western, Lewis 
and Clark Room, Dillon, Montana.

Idaho

     September 16, 2008--Red Lion Canyon Springs, 1357 Blue 
Lakes Boulevard N., Twin Falls, Idaho;
     September 17, 2008--Arco/Butte Business Incubator Center, 
159 N. Idaho Street, Arco, Idaho;
     September 18, 2008--Hilton Garden Inn, 700 Lindsay 
Boulevard, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
    All public meetings will be held 7 to 9 p.m. mountain daylight 
savings time. Additional meeting announcements will be made by news 
release to the media, individual letter mailings, and postings on the 
project Web sites listed below.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or resource information by any of 
the following methods:
     Web site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://blm.gov/mt/st/en/prog/lands_realty/projects.htm.
     E-mail: MT_MSTI@blm.gov.
     Mail: Mark A. Mackiewicz, National Project Manager, Bureau 
of Land Management, Washington Office, c/o Price Field Office, 125 
South 600 West, Price, Utah 84501.
     Courier or Hand Delivery: Mark A. Mackiewicz, National 
Project Manager, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Office, c/o 
Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah 84501.
    Or
     Web site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.deq.mt.gov/MFS/MSTI/MSTIindex.asp.
     E-mail: DEQQMSTI@mt.gov.

[[Page 49216]]

     Mail: Greg Hallsten, EIS Coordinator, Director's Office, 
Montana Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, 
Montana 59620-0901.
     Courier or Hand Delivery: Greg Hallsten, EIS Coordinator, 
Director's Office, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, 1520 
East Sixth Avenue, Helena, Montana 59620.
    Documents pertinent to the right-of-way application may be examined 
at:
     http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.deq.mt.gov/MFS/MSTI/MSTIindex.asphttp://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/prog/lands_realty/projects.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To receive information and/or to have 
your name added to our mailing list, contact Mark A. Mackiewicz, 
National Project Manager, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Office, 
c/o Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah 84501.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM will hold public meetings to obtain 
input on potential impacts, alternatives, and mitigation. To provide 
the public an opportunity to review the proposal and project 
information, the BLM expects to hold three meetings in Idaho and three 
meetings in Montana along the proposed and alternative alignments. The 
meetings will be conducted in an ``open house'' format where the BLM 
staff and project proponents will be available to explain project 
details and gather information from interested individuals or groups. A 
period for formal comments will be provided. The draft EIS is scheduled 
for release in late spring 2009, and the final EIS is scheduled for 
completion in late fall 2009.
    For lands in Montana, NorthWestern Energy is preparing an 
application for a Certificate of Compliance under the Montana Major 
Facility Siting Act (MFSA), and the Montana Department of Environmental 
Quality will then proceed with the environmental review under the 
Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and MFSA. The BLM will develop 
an EIS designed to meet the standards of analysis required for 
compliance with both federal and state regulations. Each agency will 
serve as the lead agency for ensuring compliance under their respective 
jurisdictions. The EIS must comply with NEPA 1969, as amended by the 
Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 4371, et seq. 
and all other applicable laws, executive orders, regulations, and 
direction.
    The federal environmental review process described above will guide 
the public and agency review in Idaho. The BLM will consult with state 
and local agencies affected by the project. Construction cannot 
commence until all local, state, and federal permits and regulatory 
requirements are met. Applications for right-of-way and special use 
permit have been submitted for the use and occupation of BLM- and USFS-
administered lands, respectively.
    The new transmission line would begin at the new Townsend 
Substation, which would be constructed in southwestern Montana about 
five miles southeast of the city of Townsend. As proposed, the line 
would proceed southwest to an enlarged substation east of Anaconda, 
Montana. The line would proceed south into southeastern Idaho, 
connecting to Idaho Power's existing Midpoint Substation, 10 miles 
north of Jerome, Idaho. The transmission line towers would be 
constructed of lattice steel or tubular steel approximately 125 feet 
high, with an average span of 1,400 feet. An approximate 220-foot-wide 
right-of-way would be required. The BLM is responsible for issuance of 
a right-of-way for the BLM federally managed lands by authority of the 
Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA). The BLM field offices and 
National Forests that are likely to be involved are:
     In Idaho: Burley Field Office, Shoshone Field Office, 
Upper Snake Field Office, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
     In Montana: Butte Field Office, Dillon Field Office, 
Helena National Forest, and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
    Cooperating agencies identified at this time include the USFS and 
the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (MDNRC). 
The ARS and the Department of Energy have been invited to participate 
in the project as a cooperating agency.
    Through public scoping, the BLM expects to identify various issues, 
potential impacts, mitigation measures, and alternatives to the 
proposed action. At present, the BLM has identified the following 
issues and concerns:
     Location of residences and communities.
     Agricultural lands.
     Cultural and historic resources.
     Park and recreational areas.
     Visual impacts.
     Water resources including lakes, streams, wetlands and 
floodplains.
     Sensitive plants, animals, and habitats.
     Socioeconomic effects including electric rate effects.
     Public health and safety.
    The BLM will analyze the proposed action and no action 
alternatives, as well as other possible alternatives to the proposed 
power line location and access routes. The BLM encourages you to send 
us your comments concerning the power line project as proposed and 
feasible alternative locations, possible mitigation measures, and any 
other information relevant to the proposed action.
    Authorization of this proposal may require amendment of one or more 
BLM or USFS land use plans. By this notice, the BLM is complying with 
requirements in 43 CFR 1610.2(c) and the USFS is complying with 36 CFR 
219.9 to notify the public of potential amendments to land use plans. 
If a Resource Management Plan, Management Framework Plan, or Forest 
Plan Amendment is necessary, the BLM and the USFS will integrate the 
land use planning process with the NEPA analysis process for this 
project. The responsible official who will sign the Record of Decision 
for the BLM will be Tim Bozorth, Field Manager, BLM Dillon Field 
Office. The responsible official who will sign the Record of Decision 
for the USFS will be Bruce Ramsey, Forest Supervisor, Beaverhead-
Deerlodge National Forest.
    Your input is important and will be considered in the environmental 
analysis process. All comment submittals must include the commenter's 
name and street address. Comments including the names and addresses of 
the respondent will be available for public inspection at the above 
offices during their business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Monday 
through Friday, except federal holidays.
    Any persons wanting to be added to a mailing list of interested 
parties can call or write to the BLM as described in this notice. 
Additional informational meetings may be conducted throughout the 
process to keep the public informed of the progress of the EIS.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be publicly available at any time. While you can ask 
us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information 
from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: August 11, 2008.
Howard A. Lemm,
Acting State Director, Montana State Office.
[FR Doc. E8-19335 Filed 8-19-08; 8:45 am]

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