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Title 10 Part 900

Title 10 → Chapter III → Part 900

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 10 Part 900

e-CFR data is current as of June 18, 2018

Title 10Chapter III → Part 900


Title 10: Energy


PART 900—COORDINATION OF FEDERAL AUTHORIZATIONS FOR ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION FACILITIES


Contents
§900.1   Purpose.
§900.2   Applicability.
§900.3   Definitions.
§900.4   Integrated Interagency Pre-application (IIP) process.
§900.5   Selection of the NEPA lead agency.
§900.6   IIP Process administrative file.

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 824p(h).

Source: 81 FR 66507, Sept. 28, 2016, unless otherwise noted.

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§900.1   Purpose.

This part provides a process for the timely coordination of information needed for Federal authorizations for proposed electric transmission facilities pursuant to section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act (FPA) (16 U.S.C. 824p(h)). This part seeks to ensure electric transmission projects are consistent with the nation's environmental laws, including laws that protect endangered and threatened species, critical habitats and historic properties. This part provides a framework called the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process by which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cooperates with applicable Federal and Non-Federal entities for the purpose of early coordination and information sharing for permitting and environmental reviews required under Federal law to site qualified electric transmission facilities prior to submission of required Federal request(s). The IIP Process provides for timely and focused pre-application meetings with key Federal and Non-Federal entities, as well as for early identification of potential siting constraints or opportunities, and seeks to promote thorough and consistent stakeholder outreach or engagement by a project proponent during its transmission line planning efforts. The IIP Process occurs before any application or request for authorization is submitted to Federal entities. This part improves the siting process by facilitating the early submission, compilation, and documentation of information needed for subsequent coordinated environmental review of a qualifying project or approved other project by Federal entities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) following the submission of an application or request for authorization. This part also provides an opportunity for Non-Federal entities to coordinate their non-Federal permitting and environmental reviews with the reviews of the Federal entities.

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§900.2   Applicability.

(a) The regulations under this part apply to qualifying projects. At the discretion of the Assistant Secretary (OE-1) the provisions of part 900 may also apply to Other Projects.

(b) Other Projects. (1) Persons seeking DOE assistance in the Federal authorization process for Other Projects must file a request for coordination with the OE-1. The request must contain:

(i) The legal name of the requester; its principal place of business; whether the requester is an individual, partnership, corporation, or other entity; citations to the state laws under which the requester is organized or authorized; and the name, title, and mailing address of the person or persons to whom communications concerning the request for coordination are to be addressed;

(ii) A concise general description of the proposed other project sufficient to explain its scope and purpose;

(iii) A list of all potential Federal entities involved in the proposed Other Project; and

(iv) A list of anticipated Non-Federal entities involved in the proposed Other Project, including any agency serial or docket numbers for pending applications.

(2) Within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving this request, the OE-1, in consultation with the affected Federal entities with jurisdiction, will determine if the other project should be treated as a qualifying project under this part and will notify the project proponent of one of the following:

(i) If accepted for processing under this rule, the project will be treated as a qualifying project and the project proponent must submit an initiation request as set forth under §900.5; or

(ii) If not accepted for processing under this rule, the project proponent must follow the standard procedures of Federal entities that will have jurisdiction over the project.

(c) This part does not apply to Federal authorizations for electric transmission facilities wholly located within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas interconnection.

(d) This part does not apply to electric transmission facilities in a DOE-designated National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor where a project proponent seeks a construction or modification permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under section 216(b) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824p(b)).

(e) This part does not affect any requirements of Federal law. Participation or non-participation in the IIP Process does not waive any requirements to obtain necessary Federal authorizations for electric transmission facilities. This part shall not alter or diminish any responsibilities of the Federal entities to consult under applicable law.

(f) This part complements, and does not supplant, the Federal entities' pre-application procedures for a Federal authorization. Participation in the IIP Process does not guarantee issuance of any required Federal authorization for a proposed qualifying project or selection of the project proponent's proposed study corridors and proposed routes as a range of reasonable alternatives or the preferred alternative for NEPA purposes.

(g) DOE, in exercising its responsibilities under this part, will communicate regularly with the FERC, electric reliability organizations and electric transmission organizations approved by FERC, other Federal entities, and project proponents. DOE will use information technologies to provide opportunities for Federal entities to participate remotely.

(h) DOE, in exercising its responsibilities under this part, will to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with Federal law, coordinate the IIP Process with any Non-Federal entities. DOE will use information technologies to provide opportunities for Non-Federal entities to participate remotely.

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§900.3   Definitions.

As used in this part:

Affected landowner means an owner of real property interests who is usually referenced in the most recent county or city tax records, and whose real property:

(1) Is located within either 0.25 miles of a proposed study corridor or route of a qualifying project or at a minimum distance specified by state law, whichever is greater; or

(2) Contains a residence within 3000 feet of a proposed construction work area for a qualifying project.

DOE means the United States Department of Energy.

Early identification of project issues refers to an early and open stakeholder participation process carried out by a project proponent as a part of its project development activities to identify potential environmental issues Federal and Non-Federal entities' may consider for further study, issues of concern to the affected public and stakeholders, and potential project alternatives.

Federal authorization means any authorization required under Federal law to site an electric transmission facility, including permits, rights-of-way, special use authorizations, certifications, opinions, or other approvals. This term includes those authorizations that may involve determinations under Federal law by either Federal or Non-Federal entities.

Federal entity means any Federal agency with jurisdictional interests that may have an effect on a proposed qualifying project, that is responsible for issuing a Federal authorization for the proposed qualifying project or attendant facilities, has relevant expertise with respect to environmental and other issues pertinent to or that are potentially affected by the proposed qualifying project or its attendant facilities, or provides funding for the proposed qualifying project or its attendant facilities. Federal entities include those with either permitting or non-permitting authority; for example, those entities with which consultation or review must be completed before a project may commence, such as the Department of Defense for an examination of military test, training or operational impacts.

FPA means the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 791 through 828c).

IIP process administrative file means the information assembled and maintained by DOE as the Lead section 216(h) Agency. The IIP Process Administrative File will include the IIP Initiation Request, which includes a Summary of Qualifying Project, Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary, associated Maps, Geospatial Information and Data (provided in electronic format), and a Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues. The IIP Process Administrative File will also include IIP Meeting Summaries, an IIP Resources Report, and other documents, including but not limited to maps, publicly-available data, and other supporting documentation submitted by the project proponent as part of the IIP Process that inform the Federal entities.

IIP resources report means the resource summary information provided by the project proponent as a part of the IIP Process that meets the content requirements pursuant to §900.4 of this part. The IIP Resource Report contains the environmental information used by a project proponent to plan a qualifying project.

Indian tribe has the same meaning as provided for in 25 U.S.C. 450b(e).

Lead 216(h) agency means the Department of Energy, which section 216(h) of the FPA (16 U.S.C. 824p(h)) makes responsible for timely coordination of Federal authorization requests for proposed electric transmission facilities.

MOU principals means the heads of each of the MOU signatory agencies.

MOU signatory agency means a signatory of the Interagency MOU executed on October 23, 2009, entitled, “Memorandum of Understanding among the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and Department of the Interior (DOI), regarding Coordination in Federal Agency Review of Electric Transmission Facilities on Federal Lands.”

NEPA means the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

NEPA lead agency means the Federal agency or agencies preparing or having primary responsibility for preparing an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment as defined in 40 CFR 1508.16 and in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.5(c).

Non-federal entity means an Indian Tribe, multistate governmental entity, or state and local government agency with relevant expertise and/or jurisdiction within the project area, that is responsible for conducting permitting and environmental reviews of the proposed qualifying project or its attendant facilities, that has special expertise with respect to environmental and other issues pertinent to or that are potentially affected by the proposed qualifying project or its attendant facilities, or provides funding for the proposed qualifying project or its attendant facilities. Non-Federal entities may include those with either permitting or non-permitting authority, e.g., entities such as State Historic Preservation Offices, with whom consultation must be completed in accordance with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, 54 U.S.C. 306108, before a project can commence.

OE-1 means the Assistant Secretary for DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Other projects mean electric transmission facilities that are not qualifying projects. Other Projects may include facilities for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for the sale of electric energy at wholesale that do not meet the 230 kV or above qualification, or are not otherwise identified as regionally or nationally significant with attendant facilities, in which all or part of a proposed transmission line—

(1) Crosses jurisdictions administered by more than one Federal entity; or

(2) Crosses jurisdictions administered by a Federal entity and is considered for Federal financial assistance from a Federal entity.

Project area means the geographic area considered when the project proponent develops study corridors and then potential routes for environmental review and potential project siting as a part of the project proponent's planning process for a qualifying project. It is an area located between the two end points of the project (e.g., substations), including their immediate surroundings within at least one-mile of that area, as well as any proposed intermediate substations. The size of the project area should be sufficient to allow for the evaluation of various potential alternative routes with differing environmental, engineering, and regulatory constraints. The project area does not necessarily coincide with “permit area,” “area of potential effect,” “action area,” or other defined terms of art that are specific to types of regulatory review.

Project proponent means a person or entity who initiates the IIP Process in anticipation of seeking Federal authorizations for a qualifying project or Other Project.

Qualifying project means a non-marine high voltage electric transmission line (230 kV or above) and its attendant facilities, or other regionally or nationally significant non-marine electric transmission line and its attendant facilities, in which:

(1) All or part of the proposed electric transmission line is used for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for sale at wholesale, and

(2) All or part of the proposed electric transmission line crosses jurisdictions administered by more than one Federal entity or crosses jurisdictions administered by a Federal entity and is considered for Federal financial assistance from a Federal entity. qualifying projects do not include those for which a project proponent seeks a construction or modification permit from the FERC for electric transmission facilities in a DOE-designated National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor under section 216(b) of the FPA (16 U.S.C. 824p(b)).

Regional mitigation approach means an approach that applies the mitigation hierarchy (first seeking to avoid, then minimize impacts, then, when necessary, compensate for residual impacts) when developing mitigation measures for impacts to resources from qualifying projects at scales relevant to the resource, however narrow or broad, necessary to sustain, or otherwise achieve established goals for those resources. The approach identifies the needs and baseline conditions of targeted resources, potential impacts from the qualifying projects, cumulative impacts of past and likely projected disturbance to those resources, and future disturbance trends. The approach then uses such information to identify priorities for avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures across that relevant area to provide the maximum benefit to the impacted resources.

Regional mitigation strategies or plans mean documents developed through or external to the NEPA process that apply a Regional Mitigation Approach to identify appropriate mitigation measures in advance of potential impacts to resources from qualifying projects.

Route means a linear area within which a qualifying project could be sited. It should be wide enough to allow minor adjustments in the alignment of the qualifying project so as to avoid sensitive features or to accommodate potential engineering constraints but narrow enough to allow detailed study.

Stakeholder means any Non-Federal entity, any non-governmental organization, Affected Landowner, or other person potentially affected by a proposed qualifying project.

Study corridor means a contiguous area (but not to exceed one-mile) in width within the project area where alternative routes may be considered for further study.

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§900.4   Integrated Interagency Pre-application (IIP) process.

(a) The IIP Process is intended for a project proponent who has identified potential study corridors and/or potential routes within an established project area and the proposed locations of any intermediate substations for a qualifying project. The IIP Process is also intended to accommodate qualifying projects that have been selected in a regional electric transmission plan for purposes of cost allocation or a similar process where an electric transmission plan has been identified and the permitting and siting phase must commence. While the IIP Process is optional, the early coordination provided by DOE between Federal entities, Non-Federal entities, and the project proponent ensures that the project proponent fully understands application and permitting requirements, including data potentially necessary to satisfy application requirements for all permitting entities. The two-meeting structure of the IIP process also allows for early interaction between the project proponents, Federal entities, and Non-Federal entities in order to enhance early understanding by those having an authorization or consultation related to the qualifying project. The IIP process is expected to provide Federal entities and Non-Federal entities with a clear description of a qualifying project, the project proponent's siting process, and the environmental and community setting being considered by the project proponent for siting the transmission line, as well as facilitate the Early Identification of Project Issues.

(b) A project proponent electing to utilize the IIP Process must submit an initiation request to DOE to start the IIP Process. The timing of the submission of the initiation request for IIP Process is determined by the project proponent. The initiation request must include, based on best available information, a Summary of qualifying project, Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary, associated Maps, Geospatial Information, and Studies (provided in electronic format), and a Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues. The initiation request must adhere to the page limits established by this part.

(c) Summary of the qualifying project is limited to a maximum length of ten (10) pages, single-spaced and must include:

(1) A statement that the project proponent requests to use the IIP Process;

(2) Primary contact information for the project proponent, including a primary email address;

(3) The legal information for the project proponent: Legal name; principal place of business; whether the requester is an individual, partnership, corporation, or other entity; the state laws under which the requester is organized or authorized; and if the project proponent resides or has its principal office outside the United States, documentation related to designation by irrevocable power of attorney of an agent residing within the United States;

(4) A description of the project proponent's financial and technical capability to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission the qualifying project;

(5) A statement of the project proponent's interests and objectives;

(6) To the extent available, regional electric transmission planning documents, including status of regional reliability studies, regional congestion or other related studies where applicable, and interconnection requests;

(7) A brief description of the evaluation criteria and methods used by the project proponent to identify and develop the potential study corridors or potential Routes for the proposed qualifying project;

(8) A brief description of the proposed qualifying project, including endpoints, voltage, ownership, justification for the line, intermediate substations if applicable, and, to the extent known, any information about constraints or flexibility with respect to the qualifying project;

(9) Project proponent's proposed schedule, including timeframe for filing necessary Federal and state applications, construction start date, and planned in-service date if the qualifying project receives needed Federal authorizations and approvals by Non-Federal entities; and

(10) A list of potentially affected Federal and Non-Federal entities.

(d) Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary. The Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary is limited to a maximum length of twenty (20), single-spaced pages, not including associated maps, and must include concise descriptions, based on existing, relevant, and reasonably-available information, of the known existing environment, and major site conditions in project area, including:

(1) An overview of topographical and resource features that are relevant to the siting of electric transmission lines present;

(2) Summary of known land uses, including Federal lands, Tribal lands, and state public lands of various types (e.g., parks and monuments), associated land ownership, where appropriate, and any land use restrictions;

(3) Summary of known or potential adverse effects to cultural and historic resources;

(4) Summary of known or potential conflicts with or adverse impacts on military activities;

(5) Summary of known or potential impacts on the U.S. aviation system, including FAA restricted airspace;

(6) Summary of known or potential impacts on the U.S. marine transportation system, including impacts on waterways under jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard;

(7) Summary of known information about Federal- and state-protected avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species, and critical habitat or otherwise protected habitat, that may be present, as well as other biological resources information that is necessary for an environmental review;

(8) Summary of the aquatic habitats (to include estuarine environments, and water bodies, including wetlands, as well as any known river crossings and potential constraints caused by impacts to navigable waters of the United States considered for the qualifying project);

(9) Summary of known information about the presence of low-income communities and minority populations that could be affected by the qualifying project;

(10) Identification of existing or proposed qualifying project facilities or operations in the project area;

(11) Summary of the proposed use of previously-disturbed lands, existing, agency-designated corridors, including but not limited to corridors designated under section 503 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, transportation rights-of-way, and the feasibility for co-location of the qualifying project with existing facilities or location in existing corridors and transportation rights-of-way; and

(12) Summary of potential avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (onsite and offsite), developed through the use of Regional Mitigation Approach or, where available, Regional Mitigation Strategies or Plans, and considered by the project proponent to reduce the potential impacts of the proposed qualifying project to resources warranting or requiring mitigation.

(e) Maps, Geospatial Information, and Studies. Maps, Geopspatial Information and Studies in support of the information provided in the summary descriptions for the known existing environmental, cultural, and historic resources in the project area under paragraph (d) in this section must be included, and do not contribute to the overall page length of the IIP initiation request. Project proponents must provide maps as electronic data files that may be readily accessed by Federal entities and Non-Federal entities, including:

(1) A map of the project area showing the locations of potential study corridors or potential routes;

(2) Detailed maps that accurately show information supporting summaries of the known existing environmental resources within the potential study corridors or potential routes;

(3) Electronic access to existing data or studies relevant to the summary information provided as part of paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section; and

(4) Citations identifying sources, data, and analyses used to develop the IIP Process initiation request materials.

(f) Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues. The Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues must not exceed ten (10), single-spaced pages in length and is intended to provide a summary of stakeholder outreach or interactions conducted for the qualifying project prior to submission of the initiation request and to inform the development of issues and project alternatives for study in an environmental review document. The Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues must also:

(1) Discuss the specific tools and actions used by the project proponent to facilitate stakeholder communications and public information, including an existing, current project proponent Web site for the proposed qualifying project, where available, and a readily-accessible, easily-identifiable, single point of contact for the project proponent;

(2) Identify how and when meetings on the location of potential study corridors or potential routes have been and would be publicized prior to the submission of applications for Federal authorization, as well as where and when those meetings were held and how many more meetings may be planned during the IIP Process;

(3) Identify known stakeholders and how stakeholders are identified;

(4) Briefly explain how the project proponent responds to requests for information from stakeholders, as well as records stakeholder requests, information received, and project proponent responses to stakeholders;

(5) Provide the type of location (for example, libraries, community reading rooms, or city halls) in each county potentially affected by the proposed qualifying project, where the project proponent has provided publicly-available copies of documents and materials related to the proposed qualifying project;

(6) Describe the evaluation criteria being used by the project proponent to identify and develop the potential study corridors or potential routes and that are presented by the project proponent to stakeholders during its project planning outreach efforts prior to submission of applications for Federal authorizations or non-Federal permits or authorizations;

(7) Provide information collected as a result of the project proponent's stakeholder outreach efforts; and

(8) Include a summary of issues identified, differing project alternative Corridors or routes, and revisions to routes developed as a result of issues identified by stakeholders during the project proponent's stakeholder outreach efforts for the qualifying project.

(g) Within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the initiation request, DOE shall notify by email all Federal entities and Non-Federal entities with an authorization potentially necessary to site the qualifying project that:

(1) Based on its initial review of information submitted by the project proponent in response to requirements in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section, DOE has identified the contacted Federal entities or Non-Federal entities as potentially having an authorization or consultation responsibility or other relevant expertise related to the qualifying project;

(2) Federal and Non-Federal entities notified by DOE should participate in the IIP Process for the qualifying project with DOE's rationale for that determination provided; and

(3) Federal and Non-Federal entities notified by DOE will provide DOE with a name and information for a point of contact, and any initial questions or concerns, including supporting rationale, about their level of participation in the IIP Process based on DOE's justification in writing to DOE within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving DOE's notification.

(h) Within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving the initiation request, DOE shall notify the project proponent that:

(1) The initiation request meets the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section, including whether the project constitutes a qualifying project; or

(2) The initiation request does not meet the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (f) in this section. DOE will provide the reasons for that finding and a description of how the project proponent may, if applicable, address any deficiencies through supplementation of the information contained in the initiation request so that DOE may re-consider its determination.

(i) DOE shall provide Federal and Non-Federal entities with access to an electronic copy of the initiation request and associated maps, geospatial data, and studies that meet the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section, at the same time that DOE provides notice to the project proponent.

(j) IIP Initial Meeting. DOE, in consultation with the identified Federal entities, shall convene the IIP Initial Meeting with the project proponent and all Federal entities and Non-Federal entities notified by DOE as having an authorization or consultation related to the qualifying project as soon as practicable and no later than forty-five (45) calendar days after notifying the project proponent and Federal and Non-Federal entities that the initiation request meets the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this section. The Initial Meeting shall be convened in the area or region where the proposed qualifying project is located. Federal and Non-Federal entities shall have at least thirty (30) calendar days to review the information provided by the project proponent as part of the initiation request prior to the meeting. Federal entities identified by DOE as having a Federal authorization related to the qualifying project are expected to participate in the Initial Meeting. DOE also shall invite Non-Federal entities identified by DOE as having an authorization or consultation related to the qualifying project to participate in the Initial Meeting. During the Initial Meeting:

(1) DOE and the Federal entities shall discuss the IIP Process and any cost recovery requirements, where applicable, with the project proponent;

(2) The project proponent shall describe the proposed qualifying project and the contents of its initiation request; and

(3) The Federal entities shall, to the extent possible and based on agency expertise and experience, review the information provided by the project proponent, and publicly-available information, and preliminarily identify the following and other reasonable criteria for adding, deleting, or modifying preliminary Routes from further consideration within the identified study corridors, including:

(i) Potential environmental, visual, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health effects or harm based on the potential project or proposed siting, and anticipated constraints;

(ii) Potential cultural resources and historic properties of concern;

(iii) Areas under special protection by Federal statute, or other Federal entity or Non-Federal entity decision that could potentially increase the time needed for project evaluation and potentially foreclose approval of siting a transmission line route through such areas. Such areas may include, but are not limited to, properties or sites which may be of traditional or cultural importance to Indian Tribe(s), National Scenic and Historic Trails, National Landscape Conservation system units managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Wildlife Refuges, units of the National Park System, national marine sanctuaries, or marine national monuments;

(iv) Opportunities to site routes through designated corridors, previously disturbed lands, and lands with existing infrastructure as a means of potentially reducing impacts and known conflicts as well as the time needed for affected Federal land managers to evaluate an application for a Federal authorization if the route is sited through such areas (e.g., co-location with existing infrastructure or location on previously disturbed lands or in energy corridors designated by the DOI or USDA under Section 503 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act or Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, an existing right-of-way, or a utility corridor identified in a land management plan);

(A) Potential constraints caused by impacts on military test, training, and operational missions, including impacts on installations, ranges, and airspace;

(B) Potential constraints caused by impacts on the United States' aviation system;

(C) Potential constraints caused by impacts to navigable waters of the United States;

(D) Potential avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (onsite and offsite), developed through the use of a Regional Mitigation Approach or, where available, Regional Mitigation Strategies or Plans to reduce the potential impact of the proposed qualifying project to resources requiring mitigation; and

(E) Based on available information provided by the project proponent, biological (including threatened, endangered, or otherwise protected avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species and aquatic habitats), visual, cultural, historic, and other surveys and studies that may be required for preliminary proposed routes.

(v) Such information and feedback to the project proponent does not constitute a commitment by Federal entities to approve or deny any Federal authorization request. Moreover, no agency will determine that the project proponent's proposed preliminary routes presented or discussed during the IIP Process constitute a range of reasonable alternatives for NEPA purposes or that the environmental information provided during the IIP Process would satisfy the entirety of information needs for purposes of compliance with NEPA or other applicable laws and regulations. The IIP Process does not limit agency discretion regarding NEPA review. Participating Non-Federal entities are encouraged to identify risks and benefits of siting the proposed qualifying project within the preliminary proposed routes.

(vi) DOE shall record key issues, information gaps, and data needs identified by Federal and Non-Federal entities during the Initial Meeting, and shall convey a summary of the meeting discussions, key issues, and information gaps and requests to the project proponent, all Federal entities, and any Non-Federal entities that participate in the IIP Process in a draft Initial Meeting Summary within fifteen (15) calendar days after the meeting. Participating Federal entities and Non-Federal entities, and the project proponent will then have fifteen (15) calendar days following its receipt of the IIP Process Meeting Summary to review the IIP Process Meeting Summary and provide corrections to DOE for resolution in a final Initial Meeting Summary, as appropriate. Thirty (30) calendar days following the close of the 15-day review period, DOE will incorporate the final Initial Meeting Summary into the IIP Process Administrative File for the qualifying project, and, at the same time, provide all Federal and Non-Federal entities and the project proponent an electronic copy of a final IIP Initial Meeting Summary.

(k) IIP Close-Out Meeting Request. A project proponent electing to utilize the IIP Process pursuant to this section must submit a Close-Out Meeting Request to DOE to complete the IIP Process. The timing of the submission of the Close-Out Meeting Request for the IIP Process is determined by the project proponent but may only be submitted no less than forty-five (45) calendar days following the Initial Meeting. The Close-Out Meeting Request shall include:

(1) A statement that the project proponent is requesting the Close-Out Meeting for the IIP Process;

(2) A summary table of changes made to the qualifying project during the IIP Process, including potential environmental and community benefits from improved siting or design;

(3) Maps of updates to potential proposed routes within study corridors, including the line, substations and other infrastructure, which include at least as much detail as required for the Initial Meeting described above and as modified in response to early stakeholder input and outreach and agency feedback documented as a part of the IIP Initial Meeting Summary;

(4) An updated summary of all project-specific biological (including threatened, endangered or otherwise protected avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species, and aquatic habitats), visual, cultural, historic or other surveys sponsored by the project proponent;

(5) If known, a schedule for completing upcoming field resource surveys;

(6) An updated summary of all known or potential adverse impacts to natural resources;

(7) An updated summary of any known or potential adverse effects to cultural and historic resources;

(8) A conceptual plan for potential implementation and monitoring of mitigation measures, including avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (offsite and onsite), developed through the use of a Regional Mitigation Approach or, where available, Regional Mitigation Strategies or Plans to reduce the potential impact of the proposed qualifying project to resources warranting or requiring mitigation;

(9) An estimated time of filing its requests for Federal authorizations for the proposed qualifying project; and

(10) An estimated time of filing its requests for all other authorizations and consultations with Non-Federal entities.

(l) Close-Out Meeting. The IIP Process Close-Out Meeting shall result in a description by Federal entities of the remaining issues of concern, identified information gaps or data needs, and potential issues or conflicts that could impact the time it will take affected Federal entities to process applications for Federal authorizations for the proposed qualifying project. The Non-Federal entities shall also be encouraged to provide a description of remaining issues of concern, information needs, and potential issues or conflicts. The IIP Process Close-Out Meeting will also result in the identification of a potential NEPA Lead Agency pursuant to §900.6 described.

(1) Within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the Close-Out Meeting Request, DOE shall notify by email the appropriate POCs of all Federal entities and Non-Federal entities with a known or potential authorization necessary to site the qualifying project.

(2) Within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving a Close-Out Meeting Request, DOE shall determine whether the Close-Out Meeting Request meets the requirements in paragraph (k) of this section and inform the project proponent of its acceptance, and provide Federal entities and Non-Federal entities with Close-Out Meeting Request materials, including map, geospatial data, and surveys in electronic format, via electronic means.

(3) Within sixty (60) calendar days of making a determination that the Close-Out Meeting Request meets the requirements of this section, DOE shall convene the Close-Out Meeting in the same region or location as the Initial Meeting with the project proponent and all Federal entities. All Non-Federal entities participating in the IIP Process shall also be invited to attend. During the Close-Out Meeting:

(i) The project proponent's updates to the siting process to date shall be discussed, including stakeholder outreach activities, resultant stakeholder input, and project proponent response to stakeholder input;

(ii) Based on information provided by the project proponent to date, the Federal entities shall discuss key issues of concern and potential mitigation measures identified for the proposed qualifying project;

(iii) Led by DOE, all Federal entities shall discuss statutory and regulatory standards that must be met to make decisions for Federal authorizations required for the proposed qualifying project;

(iv) Led by DOE, all Federal entities shall describe the process and estimated time to complete for required Federal authorizations and, where possible, the anticipated cost (e.g., processing and monitoring fees and land use fees);

(v) Led by DOE, all affected Federal entities shall describe their expectations for a complete application for a Federal authorization for the proposed qualifying project;

(vi) After the close out meeting, DOE shall prepare a Final IIP Resources Report for inclusion in the IIP Process Administrative File. The Final IIP Resources Report provides a description of the proposed qualifying project, including stakeholder outreach activities and feedback, summary information on environmental resources, and potential impacts (with electronic access to associated maps, geospatial data and/or survey data), potential issues, and identification of constraints by Federal entities and Non-Federal entities for the proposed qualifying project;

(vii) DOE shall recommend that participating Federal entities use the Final IIP Resources Report to inform the NEPA process for the proposed qualifying project. For example, Federal entities could use the Final IIP Resources Report during scoping for an EIS and identifying potential routes, to explain why certain alternatives were eliminated from further consideration, and to preliminarily identify impacts, potential avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (onsite and offsite), developed through the use of a Regional Mitigation Approach or, where available, Regional Mitigation Strategies or Plans and considered by the project proponent to reduce the potential impacts of the proposed qualifying project to resources requiring mitigation; and

(viii) All participating Federal and Non-Federal entities shall identify a preliminary schedule for authorizations for the proposed qualifying project contingent upon timely filing of applications and related materials by the project proponent.

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§900.5   Selection of the NEPA lead agency.

DOE, in consultation with the Federal entities, shall coordinate the selection of a potential NEPA Lead Agency responsible for preparing an environmental review document under NEPA for proposed qualifying projects. Determination and responsibilities of the NEPA Lead Agency for preparing the EIS shall be in compliance with applicable law, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and CEQ implementing regulations at 40 CFR part 1500, and each agency's respective NEPA implementing regulations and procedures. However:

(a) For proposed qualifying projects that cross lands administered by both DOI and USDA, DOI and USDA shall consult and jointly determine within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving the initiation request information from DOE which Department has a greater land management interest in the proposed qualifying project and which Department should therefore assume the role of NEPA Lead Agency.

(b) DOI and USDA shall notify DOE of their determination regarding the NEPA Lead Agency in writing within thirty (30) calendar days of making the determination.

(c) Unless DOE notifies DOI and USDA in writing of its objection to that determination within ten (10) calendar days of the DOI/USDA notification, the determination shall be deemed accepted and final. In deciding whether to object to the determination, DOE shall consider the CEQ regulations pertaining to selection of the Lead Agency, including 40 CFR 1501.5(c).

(d) For proposed qualifying projects that do not cross lands administered by both DOI and USDA, DOE and the Federal entities that will likely constitute the cooperating agencies for an environmental review document under NEPA, shall consult and jointly recommend a potential NEPA Lead Agency within 45 calendar days of receiving an IIP Process Close-Out Meeting Request. If DOE and the Federal entities are unable to agree on a recommendation for a NEPA Lead Agency, the Federal entities shall request CEQ to make a final determination by the Close-Out Meeting. No determination of a Federal entity as the potential NEPA Lead Agency under this part shall be made absent that Federal entity's consent.

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§900.6   IIP Process administrative file.

(a) When communicating with the project proponent during the IIP Process, Federal entities are expected to include DOE in all communications related to the IIP Process for the project proponent's proposed qualifying project.

(b) DOE shall maintain all information, including documents and communications, it disseminates or receives from the project proponent, Federal entities, and Non-Federal entities during the IIP Process in an IIP Process Administrative File for future use in reviewing any applications for required Federal authorizations for the proposed qualifying project. DOE will process any requests for information from the public in accordance with Freedom of Information Act requirements. DOE will share the IIP Process Administrative File with the selected or potential NEPA Lead Agency.

(c) DOE shall document the list of issues identified during the IIP Process for a proposed qualifying project and any updates to information provided as part of the Close-Out Meeting discussion in a Final IIP Resources Report for the IIP Process Administrative File.

(d) Each Federal entity is strongly encouraged to maintain the documents and communications developed in the IIP Process subject to each Federal entity's administrative record policies and, as appropriate and applicable, those documents and communications should become part of that Federal entity's administrative record for granting or denying a Federal authorization for each qualifying project.

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