WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) today issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians’ proposed Southern Bighorn Solar Project (“Project”). The Project would help advance the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach toward its ambitious renewable energy goals that will create jobs, boost local economies, and help address economic injustice.
“The Moapa Band of Paiutes’ Southern Bighorn Solar Project has the potential to bring sustainable energy and jobs to their people,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Renewable energy can be an important part of a Tribal economy that can raise the quality of life in Tribal communities while adding to the Nation’s clean energy supply.”
The Project includes two solar energy ground leases providing for the construction, operation and maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of two solar electricity generation and battery energy storage facilities. These facilities would be located on up to 3,600 acres of tribal trust land within the Moapa River Indian Reservation located in Clark County, Nevada, about 40 miles northeast of the city of Las Vegas.
The Project would provide a long-term, diverse and viable economic revenue base and job opportunities for the Moapa Band, while also allowing Moapa and its partners to optimize the use of the lease sites to maximize the potential economic benefit for the Band. The Project would also assist Nevada and the country with meeting its renewable energy needs.
Construction for both, which can occur simultaneously or sequentially, will take more than a year. Once completed, they are expected to operate for up to 50 years under the terms of the leases, with time for commissioning and decommissioning.
The BIA, as the lead federal agency, with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Moapa Band as cooperating agencies, intends to file the Southern Bighorn Solar Project FEIS with EPA. The FEIS evaluates the PV electricity generation and storage projects and collector lines along with the use of existing access roads and an existing generation interconnection (gen-tie) line located on the Moapa Reservation, on reservation lands managed by BLM and on BLM lands.
The BIA and BLM will use the FEIS to make decisions on the land lease and right-of-way applications under their respective jurisdictions; EPA may use the document to make decisions under its authorities; the Band may use the FEIS to make decisions under its Environmental Policy Ordinance; and the USFWS may use it to support its decision under the Endangered Species Act.
The BIA published a Notice of Availability for the FEIS in the Federal Register on June 3, 2021. The BIA published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Project in March with a 45-day period for review and comment.
Information about the Project, including the FEIS, is available on its website. In order to be fully considered, written comments on the FEIS must arrive no later than 30 days after EPA publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. They may be mailed, emailed, hand-carried or telefaxed to: Chip Lewis, Regional Environmental Protection Officer, BIA Western Regional Office, Branch of Environmental Quality Services, 2600 North Central Avenue, 4th Floor Mail Room, Phoenix, AZ 85004–3008; fax: (602) 379–3833; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Chip Lewis at (602) 379–6750 or Garry Cantley at (602) 379–6750.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is headed by a director who is responsible for managing day-to-day operations through four offices – Indian Services, Justice Services, Trust Services, and Field Operations. These offices directly administer or fund tribally based infrastructure, law enforcement, social services, tribal governance, natural and energy resources, and trust land and resources management programs for the nation’s federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.