The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall prepare an environmental assessment on each proposed large electric power generating plant and each proposed high voltage transmission line being reviewed under the alternative permitting process in parts 7850.2800 to 7850.3900. The environmental assessment must contain information on the human and environmental impacts of the proposed project and of alternative sites or routes identified by the commissioner and shall address mitigating measures for all sites or routes considered.
The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the development of the scope of the environmental assessment by holding a public meeting and by soliciting public comments. The public meeting required under part 7850.3500 satisfies the requirement to hold a scoping meeting. The commissioner shall mail notice of the meeting to those persons on either the general list or the project contact list at least ten days before the meeting. The commissioner shall provide at least seven days from the day of the public meeting for the public to submit comments regarding the scope of the environmental assessment.
The commissioner shall include in the scope of the environmental assessment any alternative sites or routes proposed by the citizen advisory task force or by any member agency of the Environmental Quality Board prior to the close of the scoping period. During the scoping process, any person may suggest an alternative site or route to evaluate in the environmental assessment. A person desiring that a particular site or route be evaluated shall submit to the commissioner, during the scoping process, an explanation of why the site or route should be included in the environmental assessment and all supporting information the person wants the commissioner to consider. The commissioner shall provide the applicant with an opportunity to respond to each request that an alternative be included in the environmental assessment. The commissioner shall include the suggested site or route in the scope of the environmental assessment only if the commissioner determines that evaluation of the proposed site or route will assist in the commissioner's ultimate decision on the permit application. Any person may also suggest specific human or environmental impacts that should be included in the environmental assessment.
The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall determine the scope of the environmental assessment within ten days after close of the public comment period and shall mail notice of the scoping decision to those persons on the project contact list within five days after the decision. Once the commissioner has determined the scope of the environmental assessment, the scope shall not be changed except upon a decision by the commissioner that substantial changes have been made in the project or substantial new information has arisen significantly affecting the potential environmental effects of the project or the availability of reasonable alternatives. The commissioner shall also determine as part of the scoping process a reasonable schedule for completion of the environmental assessment. The scoping decision by the commissioner must identify:
the alternative sites or routes, if any, to be addressed in the environmental assessment;
any specific potential impacts to be addressed;
the schedule for completion of the environmental assessment; and
other matters to be included in the environmental assessment.
The environmental assessment must include:
a general description of the proposed facility;
a list of any alternative sites or routes that are addressed;
a discussion of the potential impacts of the proposed project and each alternative site or route on the human and natural environment;
a discussion of mitigative measures that could reasonably be implemented to eliminate or minimize any adverse impacts identified for the proposed project and each alternative site or route analyzed;
an analysis of the feasibility of each alternative site or route considered;
a list of permits required for the project; and
a discussion of other matters identified in the scoping process.
The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall complete the environmental assessment in accordance with the schedule established during the scoping process. In establishing the schedule for completion of the environmental assessment, the commissioner shall take into account any applicable statutory deadlines, the number and complexity of the alternatives and impacts to be addressed, the status of other proceedings affecting the project, and the interests of the public, the applicant, and the commissioner.
Upon completion of the environmental assessment, the commissioner shall publish notice in the EQB Monitor of the availability of the environmental assessment and mail notice of the availability of the document to those persons on the project contact list. The commissioner shall provide a copy of the environmental assessment to any public agency with authority to permit or approve the proposed project. The commissioner shall post the environmental assessment on the agency's web page, if possible.
When the Public Utilities Commission has issued a Certificate of Need for a large electric power generating plant or high voltage transmission line or placed a high voltage transmission line on the certified HVTL list maintained by the commission, the environmental assessment shall not address questions of need, including size, type, and timing; questions of alternative system configurations; or questions of voltage.
An environmental assessment must be the only state environmental review document required to be prepared by the commissioner of the Department of Commerce on a project qualifying for review under the alternative review process. No environmental assessment worksheet or environmental impact statement shall be required. Environmental review at the certificate of need stage before the Public Utilities Commission must be performed in accordance with parts 7849.1000 to 7849.2100.
27 SR 1295; 28 SR 951; L 2005 c 97 art 3 s 19
September 10, 2018