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Notice and Scoping Meeting for the EA for the EPC Upgrade Project at LANL


Summary: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announces its intent to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) to upgrade the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) electrical power capacity. The proposed EA will include constructing and operating a new 115 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line and upgrading LANL’s existing electrical infrastructure.

LANL and Los Alamos County, New Mexico currently depend upon two power transmission lines to import electrical power. Full redundancy is required for power transmission to ensure reliability during maintenance, fault events, or contingencies. In addition, LANL’s peak seasonal power demand is projected to exceed the established operating limits for the existing transmission lines by 2026. With this Notice, DOE/NNSA and the U.S. Forest Service Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), as co-lead agencies, are initiating the public scoping process for the Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade (EPCU) project EA, and the associated project-specific amendment to the SFNF 1987 Land and Resource Management Plan. The agencies are requesting public comments regarding potential environmental impacts they should consider in preparation of the EA for the proposed project.

Addresses: This notice is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: /nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room. The Draft EA, when available will also be posted on this page.


Written comments are due to the email address EPCUEA@nnsa.doe.gov or submitted online at EPCU EA Project Website no later than May 21, 2021. All written comments require a name and a mailing address to participate in objections on the SFNF Plan Amendment.

DOE/NNSA and the U.S. Forest Service SFNF will also hold a virtual EA public scoping meeting on May 6, 2021. Comments may also be made at the virtual EA public scoping meeting.

The virtual EA public scoping meeting will be held Thursday, May 6, 2021, 6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

Go to: https://tinyurl.com/EPCUEA OR click this alternative link to join the meeting online.

Alternately, you may join the virtual public scoping meeting by telephone at:

Phone number: 1-408-418-9388

Access Code:    132 576 9249

For Further Information concerning the EA, Contact: U.S. Department of Energy, Los Alamos Field Office, ATTN: NEPA Compliance Officer, 3747 West Jemez Road, Los Alamos, NM 87544 

For Further Information concerning SFNF Plan Amendment, Contact: comments-southwestern-santafe@usda.gov

Supplementary Information:

Purpose and Need for Action: LANL occupies approximately 40 square miles primarily in Los Alamos, Sandoval, and Santa Fe Counties, New Mexico. Since 1943, LANL has had the responsibility to ensure our Nation’s security through nuclear deterrence—including stewardship of our Nation’s nuclear weapons—and applying the best scientific and engineering solutions to the world’s most difficult challenges. LANL needs to have reliable and redundant electrical power to support supercomputing capability, to ensure continuity of operations, and broadly address the power demand of mission requirements.

The need for an additional import transmission capacity drove an initial EA process in 2000. Close coordination with Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), a series of engineering studies, and peak demand forecasting over the ensuing years have consistently validated this need.

The proposed transmission line would originate at PNM’s Norton Substation located on public lands managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The proposed transmission line would proceed southwesterly crossing the Caja del Rio public land managed by the SFNF, ultimately spanning White Rock Canyon onto DOE/NNSA-managed lands at LANL. The proposed transmission line would have a total length of approximately 12.5 miles, all of which are located on federally managed lands.

NNSA’s strategy for the proposed transmission line route is to avoid known cultural, biological, and recreational resources; minimize visibility of the line from residential development; and to the extent possible follow existing roads and corridors. On the approach to the Rio Grande crossing, the new transmission line would run parallel with PNM’s existing Reeves Line (115 kV).

The proposed transmission line would require new overhead pole structures with an average span of 800 feet, limited-access roads for construction and maintenance, and staging areas for storage of materials. The line would be constructed and managed with adequate sag clearance for safety; this may require periodic vegetation control. The crossing at the Rio Grande would require the erection of new structural towers at each side of White Rock Canyon (an approximately 1.1 mile-wide span). Areas disturbed by construction activities would be revegetated upon project completion.

The DOE/NNSA has submitted an application for a special use permit with the BLM and SFNF. As a prerequisite to this permit, DOE/NNSA and SFNF are co-lead agencies in preparing the EA to analyze potential environmental affects that could result from the implementation of the proposed EPCU.

In addition, the EPCU project plans to upgrade transmission and distribution infrastructure within the LANL site boundary. These improvements include a new transmission circuit, capacity improvements at two LANL substations, and the addition of overhead and underground distribution circuits and switchgear that add power flow capacity.

Alternatives Proposed for Consideration: In addition to the Proposed Action identified in the Purpose and Need for Action section, DOE/NNSA will evaluate the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, DOE/NNSA would not construct and operate a new 115 kV power transmission line.

Another alternative considered was reconductoring the two existing transmission lines (i.e., Norton and Reeves) to afford greater electric current carrying capacity. This alternative would replace existing complete and usable resources, while also causing a greater length of land disturbing activity and result in a lack of system redundancy during construction. Therefore, this alternative was eliminated from further consideration.

Potential Areas of Environmental Analysis: DOE/NNSA and the SFNF have tentatively identified the following areas for detailed analysis in the EA. The list is not intended to be comprehensive or to predetermine the potential impacts to be analyzed.

  • Impacts on ecological systems and threatened and endangered species
  • Impacts to geological and soil resources in relation to constructing transmission pole structures
  • Impacts to cultural resources and historical properties, including the Camino Real Aldentro National Historic Trail
  • Impacts to the scenic quality and viewshed of both recreational users and nearby residents
  • Impacts to recreational users of the Caja del Rio and SFNF
  • Short-term and long-term land use impacts, including potential impacts of utility corridors
  • Cumulative impacts

NEPA Process and Public Participation: DOE/NNSA and the SFNF adhere to all NEPA regulations including those related to public participation and stakeholder interactions. In general, the NEPA process requires meaningful opportunities for public participation. Public participation in the NEPA process includes submitting comments on publically available draft NEPA documents.

As such, a 30-day scoping period is being established during which concerned citizens, special interest groups, local governments, and any other interested parties are invited to comment on the scope of the proposed EA. Scoping will help ensure that a full range of issues related to this proposal are addressed in the EA, and also help identify significant or potentially significant impacts that may result from the proposed project.

When completed, the Draft EA will be circulated for public review and comment. At that time, DOE/NNSA will issue a Notice on the availability of the Draft EPCU EA and will include instructions on how to submit public comments. DOE/NNSA will consider and respond to comments in the Final EA. Based on the EA analysis, DOE/NNSA and the SFNF will either issue separate Findings of No Significant Impact or announce the intention to prepare an environmental impact statement.

SFNF Plan Proposed Amendment: A project-specific plan amendment to the 1987 SFNF Land Management Plan, as amended through Amendment 13 (June 2010) is necessary to accommodate the EPCU project. Project-specific amendments apply only to the project with which they are associated. The Forest Plan would be amended under the 2012 Planning Rule (36 CFR 219) to accommodate the EPCU project.

The amendment would allow the project to be consistent with the Forest Plan by modifying direction related to utility line placement. If implemented, this amendment would enable the placement of a new utility line outside of the existing corridors on land managed by the SFNF.

This amendment is needed as there is not an existing corridor the entire length of the planned power transmission route where it crosses National Forest System lands.

The 2012 Planning Rule requires the U.S. Forest Service to identify which substantive rule provisions within 36 CFR 219.8 through 219.11 that are directly related to the amendment must be applied to the amendment. The applicable substantive provisions apply only within the scope and scale of the amendment (36 CFR 219.13(b)(5)). The substantive requirements that are directly related to this amendment include the following:

  • 219.8 – Sustainability
  • 219.9 -- Diversity of plant and animal communities
  • 219.10 – Multiple use

The proposed project is not expected to significantly alter the multiple-use goals and objectives for long-term land and resource management or undermine the ability of the Forest Plan to meet these substantive requirements.

The impacts of the Forest Plan amendment will be fully analyzed in the environmental assessment.

Open for Public Comment

Environmental Assessment of the Kansas City National Security Complex Sitewide Assessment of Botts and Building 23 Operations

NNSA is making a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Kansas City National Security Complex (KCNSC) Sitewide Assessment of Botts and Building 23 Operations (DOE/EA-2167) available for public review and comment. The draft EA evaluates the proposed expansion of operations at the KCNSC. NNSA conducts operation at the KCNSC Botts Campus located at 14510 Botts Road, Kansas City, MO, and recently added KCNSC Building 23 facility located at 14901Andrews Road, Kansas City, MO, to support the development and manufacture of non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons. The draft EA analyzes the potential environmental impacts of KCNSC’s operations at the KCNSC Botts Campus and options to expand, reconfigure and/or move all or select operations within the KCNSC, to include the KCNSC Botts Campus, Building 23, and an additional facility with approximately 200,000 square feet (SF) of production space within a two-mile radius of the KCNSC Botts Campus. NNSA invites Federal and state agencies, state and local governments, Native American tribes, industry, other organizations, and members of the public to submit comments on the draft EA through June 23, 2021.

Written comments on the Draft EA should be submitted no later than June 23, 2021, and sent to:

Mail:    U.S. Department of Energy

            National Nuclear Security Administration

            14520 Botts Road

            Kansas City, MO  64147

            Attention: KCFO NEPA Comments

Or Email: NEPA.Comments@kcnsc.doe.gov

Please include your name and mailing address or email address with your comments so a response to your comment can be sent to you.


Plutonium Pit Production NEPA documents

Record of Decision (ROD) for the final EIS for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site (SRS)

Amended Record of Decision (AROD) of the Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (CT SPEIS) for Pit Production at SRS  

Final SRS Pit Production EIS

NNSA’s Notice of Availability (NOA) of the final SRS Pit Production EIS in the Federal Register

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Notice of Availability (NOA) of the final SRS Pit Production EIS in the Federal Register

Amended Record of Decision (AROD) of the Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (CT SPEIS) for Pit Production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

AROD of the 2008 LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for Pit Production at LANL

Final SA of the SWEIS for pit production at LANL

The draft SA of the 2008 SWEIS for Continued Operations of LANL is available here for your review

More information on the 2008 SWEIS for Continued Operations of LANL is available here.

The Final SA for the Complex Transformation SPEIS is available here for your review.

The Notice of Availability of Final Supplement Analysis for the Complex Transformation SPEIS is available here for your review.

The Draft SA for the Complex Transformation SPEIS is available here for your review.

The Federal Register Notice of Availability is available here for your review.

More information on the Complex Transformation SPEIS is available for your review.

The Federal Register Notice of Intent for the Savannah River Site (SRS) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) announcing the plutonium pit production NEPA strategy is available here for your review.

SRS Pit Production EIS Scoping Meeting presentation from 6/27/2019 public scoping meeting.

The draft SRS Pit Production EIS

NNSA’s Federal Register Notice of Availability (NOA) of the draft SRS Pit Production EIS

The Environmental Protection Agency’s NOA of the draft SRS Pit Production EIS in the Federal Register

The SRS Pit Production EIS page

NEPA Terminology

  • Environmental Assessment (EA) - A concise public document that a Federal agency prepares under NEPA to provide sufficient evidence and analysis to determine whether a proposed agency action would require preparation of an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact.
  • Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) - The detailed written statement that is required by section 102(2)(C) of NEPA for a proposed major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.
  • Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) - A public document issued by a Federal agency briefly presenting the reasons why an action for which the agency has prepared an environmental assessment will not have a significant effect on the human environment and, therefore, will not require preparation of an environmental impact statement.
  • A Floodplain and Wetland Assessment is an evaluation that DOE prepares under DOE Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements (10 CFR Part 1022) consisting of a description of a proposed action, a discussion of its potential effects on the floodplain or wetland, and consideration of alternatives. A Floodplain Statement of Findings is a brief document issued pursuant to 10 CFR 1022.14 that describes the results of the floodplain assessment.
  • A Mitigation Action Plan is a document DOE prepares in accordance with DOE NEPA regulations (10 CFR 1021.331) that describes the plan for implementing commitments made in a DOE environmental impact statement and its associated record of decision, or, when appropriate, an EA or FONSI, to mitigate adverse environmental impacts associated with an action.
  • Notice of Availability (NOA) is a formal notice, published in the Federal Register, that announces the issuance and public availability of a draft or final EIS. The Environmental Protection Agency NOA is the official public notification of an EIS; a DOE NOA is an optional notice used to provide information to the public.
  • Notice of Intent (NOI) is a formal announcement of intent to prepare an EIS as defined in Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1508.22). DOE publishes NOIs in the Federal Register in accordance with DOE NEPA regulations (10 CFR 1021.311). On rare occasions we may produce and issue an Advance NOI which means a formal public notice of DOE's intent to prepare an EIS, which is published in advance of an NOI in order to facilitate public involvement in the NEPA process.
  • Programmatic NEPA document means a broad-scope EIS (PEIS) or EA that identifies and assesses the environmental impacts of a DOE program; it may also refer to an associated NEPA document, such as an NOI, ROD, or FONSI.
  • A Record of Decision (ROD) is a concise public document that records a Federal agency's decision(s) concerning a proposed action for which the agency has prepared an environmental impact statement (See CEQ and DOE NEPA regulations at 40 CFR 1505.2 and 10 CFR 1021.315, respectively).
  • Scoping means the process described at 40 CFR 1501.7; “public scoping process” refers to that portion of the scoping process where the public is invited to participate, as described at 40 CFR 1501.7 (a)(1) and (b)(4).
  • Site-wide NEPA document means a broad-scope EIS (SWEIS) or EA that is programmatic in nature and identifies and assesses the individual and cumulative impacts of ongoing and reasonably foreseeable future actions at a DOE site; Site-wide may also refer to an associated NEPA document, such as an NOI, ROD, or FONSI.
  • Supplement Analysis (SA) means a DOE document used to determine whether a supplemental EIS should be prepared pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.9(c), or to support a decision to prepare a new EIS.
  • Supplemental EIS (SEIS) means an EIS prepared to supplement a prior EIS as provided at 40 CFR 1502.9(c).

For more information about the NEPA law and guidance, please go to this page.

For more information about NNSA NEPA documents, please contact NEPA@nnsa.doe.gov.