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Lava Ridge Update: Trust the process

If you are as interested in clean energy development as we are, you have also been following the Lava Ridge Wind Project very closely. It has been over two years since the Bureau of Land Management initiated the public scoping process for the project, and nearly a year since the Draft EIS was released for public review and comment. 

Some are asking, so where is the Lava Ridge project now? When will we get a decision?

The short answer is sometime next year.

The long answer is that the process for this is long, arduous and a bit complex for good reason. None of us would want large projects to be built wherever, whenever, with rushed research and no public input. 

Pulling this clear layout from the American Bar Association, the process currently has six(ish) main phases:

  1. Agency Scoping
  • The agency reviews an application, determines conformance with land use plans, and establishes the data needed to enable a thorough evaluation of the proposal.
  1. Notice of Public Scoping
  • Public is notified that the relevant agency is preparing an EIS. An announcement is filed in the Federal Register, notices are sent to local media, letters are sent to individuals and groups that might be interested. Public may submit comments identifying issues that the EIS should address.
  1. Draft EIS
  • Agency assembles all comments, develops alternatives, performs impact analyses, and prepares a Draft EIS.
  1. Public Comment
  • Members of the public are invited to provide feedback on the Draft EIS through written comments and public meetings over a 45-day period.
  1. Final EIS** (Currently, Lava Ridge is at this stage.)
  • The agency prepares and releases a Final EIS that addresses the comments received on the Draft EIS, and revises its analysis based on comments or data received during the public comment phase.
  1. Record of Decision
  • The agency issues a decision to deny or approve the proposal, or select an alternative to the proposal that reduces impacts but still meets the purpose of the project.

Because the BLM received 11,000 public comments for the Lava Ridge wind project, it will take them a while to go through them all and make possible changes to the document.

It has been reported that the BLM will likely make a move around February 2024. 

It’s hard to know which way the decision-makers are leaning. Creating a 300+ page draft EIS with heavy research on everything from wildlife and habitat to people and historic monuments is no small feat, so while we are also anticipating the final decision, we are grateful that the process is deliberate. 

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