the orders of an October Presidential memorandum, federal agencies charged with
producing an environmental impact statement analyzing the impacts of 14 federal
Columbia/Snake river dams on salmon and steelhead released a schedule this week
that shortens the time they will take to complete the EIS by one year.
Donald J. Trump’s October 19, 2018 memorandum directed federal agencies to
reduce regulations at West Coast dams, including water projects in California,
the Klamath River and federal dams in the Columbia River basin.
directive included in the memo is to move up by one year the completion of an
EIS and biological opinion for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered
Species Act that traverse the federal Columbia River power system’s Columbia
and Snake river dams.
his May 2016 remand of the 2014 FCRPS BiOp, U.S. District Court Judge Michael
H. Simon directed NOAA Fisheries, the Bonneville Power Administration, the
Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the EIS
and BiOp with a Record of Decision by September 2021. That five-year National
Environmental Policy Act process was requested at the time by the federal
agencies. The Trump memo moves up the finish date for the EIS/BiOp to 2020.
the agencies based the need for five years on co-lead agencies’ experiences
with similarly complex NEPA processes, according to Matt Rabe, spokesperson
with the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ Northwestern Division. At the time, the
agencies considered five years to be the time needed to complete their
“comprehensive evaluation of a broad range of alternatives, analyze impacts to
affected resources in the Columbia River Basin and provide sufficient public
have the discretion under the court order and within our expertise on the
Columbia River System, and with NEPA, to alter the schedule, as appropriate,”
agencies published the revised EIS schedule Wednesday, Jan. 9.
to the new schedule, the agencies will sign the Records of Decisions by the end
of September 2020, one year earlier than previous scheduled.
remain committed to identifying a long-term strategy for the operation,
maintenance and configuration of the 14 projects in the Columbia River System
that best balances their multiple purposes,” the Corps said in a statement.
“The contributions from tribes, the public and federal and state agencies
across the region will continue to inform our decisions as we reach our new
Presidential memo (Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the
West), directs the secretaries of Commerce and Interior to “address water
infrastructure challenges in the western United States.”
of uncoordinated, piecemeal regulatory actions have diminished the ability of
our Federal infrastructure … to deliver water and power in an efficient, cost
effective way,” the memo says.
Presidential memorandum (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-memorandum-promoting-reliable-supply-delivery-water-west/)
gave the secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, Energy and the Assistant
Secretary of the Army for Civil Works under the direction of the Secretary of
the Army, to develop a schedule to complete the FCRPS BiOp by 2020, some 60
days to submit a new schedule.
EIS Process Schedule up to this point began September 2016 with a notice of
intent, which was followed by scoping the extent and content of the EIS from
September through February 2017. The agencies developed alternatives through
December 2018 and are currently analyzing the alternatives.
this point the EIS schedule compression is mostly focused on the time period
between the completion of the draft EIS and signing the Records of Decision,
Rabe said. Changes, he continued, include
streamlining co-lead agency decision-making,
streamlining coordination among federal and state agencies and tribes, and
streamlining analysis of mitigation measures and modeling.
streamlined schedule (www.crso.info):
a draft EIS will be ready for review in February 2020 (the original schedule
called for the completion of a draft March 27, 2020;
by June 2020, the public comment review and synthesis, preparation of the final
EIS and identification of the preferred alternative will be complete;
June 2020, issue final EIS (the original schedule called for a final EIS by March
September 30, 2020, the final Records of Decision (previously, that was
scheduled one year later, Sept. 24, 2021).
now and the Final EIS, the agencies will consult with NOAA Fisheries and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an Endangered Species Act Section 7
are confident that progress will continue toward the identification of a
long-term strategy for the operation, configuration and maintenance of the
Columbia River System that:
complies with all applicable laws, including NEPA and the Endangered Species
meets the revised schedule, and
considers input obtained during the public scoping period and from the
project’s Cooperating Agencies based on their special expertise and
jurisdiction by law.”
agencies’ revised EIS schedule is at https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jan/09/2002077981/-1/-1/0/190109-A-A1408-001.PNG
CBB, October 26, 2018, “Administration Memo Cuts Basin Salmon BiOp Schedule By
One Year, Trims Regs For Water Projects,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441725.aspx
June 1, 2018, “NOAA Says It Must Complete New Salmon/Steelhead BiOp In 2018 To
Ensure ESA Compliance,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440848.aspx
July 15, 2016, “Judge Gives Feds Nearly Five Years To Complete NEPA Process For
New Basin Salmon/Steelhead Recovery,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437139.aspx
May 6, 2016, “Federal Court Again Rejects Columbia Basin Salmon/Steelhead
Recovery Plan; Orders New BiOp By 2018,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436667.aspx