The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a law that requires all Federal agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of a proposed Federal action, which can be done through the development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). For the Nogales Interconnection project (the Project), the proposed action is the issuance of a Presidential permit for the international border crossing (OE Docket No. PP-420). The proposed construction, operation, maintenance, and connection of the transmission line within the United States is considered to be a connected action to DOE’s proposed action and is also evaluated.
After due consideration of the nature and extent of the Project (DOE/EA-2042), DOE determined that the appropriate level of NEPA review is an Environmental Assessment (EA), which is a concise public document that provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to make a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EA will be prepared in accordance with NEPA procedures outlined by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500 – 1508) and DOE procedures found in 10 CFR Part 1021. Because the proposed Project may involve actions in floodplains, the EA will include a floodplain assessment prepared in accordance with 10 CFR Part 1022 (Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements).
DOE issues Presidential permits in accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 10485 as amended by E.O. 12038 and the regulations at 10 CFR 205.320 et seq. (Application for Presidential Permit Authorizing the Construction, Connection, Operation, and Maintenance of Facilities for Transmission of Electric Energy at International Boundaries).
The environmental review that DOE conducts in connection with Presidential permit applications contributes to DOE’s overall assessment of whether “the issuance of the permit [is] consistent with the public interest,” as EO 10485 requires.
To inform the public interest determination, DOE also considers the Project’s impact on electric reliability. DOE evaluates if the Project would adversely affect the operating reliability of the U.S. electric power system under normal and emergency conditions. DOE may also consider other factors relevant to the public interest. Also, DOE must obtain the concurrences of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense before taking final action on a Presidential permit application.
For information regarding how you can become engaged in the process, please see the Public Involvement page. The public will be provided with an opportunity to learn about DOE’s proposed action and provide timely information and official public comments during the designated public comment period.
For more information regarding Presidential permits, please also see DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Presidential permit website:
Banner Image: North-east facing view from the U.S.-Mexico border. Image courtesy of Tucson Electric Power.