Public input sought on scope of environmental assessments
OLYMPIA – Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature passed a law to support renewable power by focusing on ways to improve siting processes for clean energy facilities.The Department of Ecology is working to implement the law, and seeking public input on how to design what are called “programmatic environmental impact statements” for utility-scale solar and onshore wind projects.
Planning for these types of facilities on a statewide level provides consistent and useful information for businesses and engages local communities and tribes early so they can voice their concerns. This can help developers make more informed decisions and maintain protection of the environment and people.
Each individual solar or onshore wind project would still need to do a separate environmental review but will be able to use the information developed in these programmatic impact statements to avoid and minimize impacts.
“We’re at the beginning of a broad, statewide look at these types of energy projects, and we want to hear from people,” said Diane Butorac, who is leading Ecology’s work on the environmental reviews. “We will be analyzing types of solar and onshore wind energy facilities to better understand potential impacts and ways those effects could be mitigated.”
The scoping documents Ecology is asking the public to weigh in on include information compiled from existing environmental studies conducted for past projects, as well as guidance and planning documents.
Ecology will use public and tribal input from scoping to develop a draft programmatic environmental review with more detailed analysis.The scoping documents identify possible types of solar and onshore wind facilities, potential environmental impacts, and mitigation actions that could be included in the environmental review.
Ecology will use feedback from the public, tribes, and agencies to determine the details in the next phase of developing the programmatic environmental impact statements.
Scoping for both statewide environmental impact statements are open for public comment from Sept. 27 through Oct. 27. Both documents are available online for review. Comments can be submitted electronically or by mail at:Clean Energy CoordinationDepartment of EcologyP.O. Box 47600Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Ecology also will conduct two virtual scoping meetings: