Docket # PP-362

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions below are categorized into the following topics:

DOE's Presidential Permit Responsibilities and Role

Q: Why is the Department of Energy (DOE) involved in the Champlain Hudson Power Express, Inc.'s proposal to build a transmission facility?

A: Anyone seeking to construct, operate, maintain, or connect an electric transmission facility crossing the borders of the United States must first obtain a Presidential permit issued by DOE under Executive Order (EO) 10485, as amended by EO 12038. The Applicant, Champlain Hudson Power Express, Inc. (CHPEI), proposes to build a transmission line that crosses the U.S./Canada border, and has applied to DOE for a Presidential permit. DOE did not initiate, nor is it funding, the proposed transmission facility. DOE's role is limited to deciding whether to issue a Presidential permit. In order to construct its proposed facility, CHPEI is also required to obtain approval from the State of New York.

Q: What factors will DOE consider in determining whether to issue the Presidential permit? How will DOE determine whether to issue the Presidential permit?

A: EO 10485, as amended by EO 12038, authorizes the Secretary of Energy “[u]pon finding the issuance of the permit to be consistent with the public interest, and, after obtaining the favorable recommendations of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense thereon, to issue to the applicant, as appropriate, a permit for [the] construction, operation, maintenance, or connection” of “facilities for the transmission of electric energy between the United States and a foreign country.” Thus, in deciding whether to issue a permit, DOE must determine whether doing so would be “consistent with the public interest.”

In deciding whether the issuance of a Presidential permit would be consistent with the public interest, DOE assesses the environmental impacts of the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) Project and reasonable alternatives, the impact on electric reliability, and any other factors that DOE also may consider relevant to the public interest. DOE will consider public comments on all aspects of its public interest determination, and will announce its decision whether to issue a permit, as well as the factors DOE considered in making its decision, in the Record of Decision (ROD).

Q: What topics can I comment on with respect to the Presidential permit application? When can I make comments?

A: DOE will consider public comments on the Presidential permit application with respect to: (1) DOE's environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); (2) electric reliability of the proposed CHPE Project; and (3) any other factors that DOE may also consider relevant to the public interest.

With respect to environmental issues, DOE conducted both an initial and a supplemental scoping process for the proposed CHPE Project. The initial Scoping Period started on June 18, 2010 and ended on August 2, 2010. Seven scoping meetings were held at seven locations along the proposed CHPE Project transmission line route in July 2010. In response to CHPEI submitting a revised transmission line alignment in February 2012, DOE reopened the Scoping Period from April 30, 2012 until June 14, 2012.

The public will also have an opportunity to review and comment on the Draft EIS. DOE will hold public hearings on the Draft EIS at locations along the proposed transmission line corridor in New York State, and DOE will accept both oral and written comments on the Draft EIS. DOE will consider public comments on the Draft EIS in preparing the Final EIS.

With respect to electric reliability, DOE currently expects that the Applicant's technical reliability studies, prepared in conjunction with New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) guidelines, will be available for review and comment in the second half of 2013. DOE will open a comment period to receive public comments on the studies by publishing a notice in the Federal Register and posting the reliability studies on the CHPE EIS website.

Further, prior to making a decision, DOE will request public comments on any other factors that DOE may also consider relevant to the public interest determination that DOE is required to make in deciding whether to issue a Presidential permit. DOE will open a comment period for this topic by publishing a notice in the Federal Register.

Q: I petitioned to intervene in the proceeding. Was my petition granted and, if so, what does it mean to be a “party” to a proceeding on an application for a Presidential permit?

A: DOE is committed to ensuring that all interested stakeholders have a meaningful opportunity to participate in this informal adjudicatory proceeding. All persons who have requested to intervene to become “intervening parties” in the CHPEI application proceeding have been permitted to do so. Persons requesting to be intervening parties follow intervention procedures, which are provided here. DOE has established the CHPE EIS website to make relevant filed documents available and provide additional resources about the proceeding. DOE intends this website to provide maximum transparency and to ensure that intervening parties and the public remain apprised of issues and developments for the duration of the proceeding.

Q: I did not intervene in the proceeding and I am not a “party” to the application process. What may I comment on?

A: DOE welcomes comments on the environmental impacts of the proposed CHPE Project and reasonable alternatives, the impact on electric reliability, and any other factors that DOE may also consider relevant to the public interest. In other words, DOE will consider public comments on all aspects of its public interest determination, and “party” status is not required to comment.

Q: I filed a motion (or comment) with DOE. Will DOE be issuing orders in response to filings by parties during the proceeding? If so, when and how?

A: DOE is committed to ensuring that all interested stakeholders have a meaningful opportunity to participate at every stage in its consideration of the CHPE Presidential permit application, and to ensuring that its process for considering the application is open, transparent, and impartial. DOE appreciates the public interest in the proposed CHPE project and takes very seriously the concerns of all stakeholders.

DOE anticipates that most of the issues raised by CHPEI's application will relate to potential environmental impacts. To the extent possible, DOE expects to treat all questions, motions, or other submissions related to these impacts as comments and will consider them during preparation of the EIS pursuant to NEPA. DOE will consider comments submitted during the Scoping Period for the EIS in preparation of the Draft EIS. Once completed, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment upon the Draft EIS, and DOE will consider those comments in preparation of the Final EIS.

DOE will also accept submissions relating to the reliability impacts of the proposed CHPE Project. When the Applicant and the regional transmission system network operator, the NYISO, have prepared the requisite transmission studies, DOE will post them on the CHPE EIS website, open a comment period, and consider the studies along with all comments received thereon in determining whether and how the proposed CHPE Project would impact the reliability of the electrical grid.

Finally, DOE will consider comments related to any other factors that DOE may also consider relevant to its determination of whether issuance of the Presidential permit would be consistent with the public interest. Prior to making a decision on whether or not to grant the Presidential permit, DOE will open a comment period for interested stakeholders to comment on other factors that DOE may also consider relevant to the public interest determination DOE is required to make in deciding whether to issue a Presidential permit.

However, DOE does not expect to respond to all individual motions, comments, or questions during the proceeding. To the extent practical, such submissions will be treated as public comments and made a part of the public record on the CHPE EIS website. In some instances an issue may be raised – for example a request for an extension of a comment period – that would prompt DOE to address a comment sooner rather than later. When DOE determines that such an issue has been raised, DOE will respond by publishing a Federal Register notice or posting additional information on the CHPE EIS website.

Q: Will DOE be responding to individual emails and calls regarding the proceeding?

A: Given the volume of interest in a proceeding and the need to ensure that all interested stakeholders have access to the same information, DOE is not able to respond to individual emails and phone calls received regarding the proceeding. Emails, however, will become part of the record. DOE will address comments related to potential environmental impacts through the NEPA process and will address other issues through information on the CHPE EIS website, notices in the Federal Register, or in the ROD, as appropriate.

Q: How do I submit an anonymous comment on a Presidential permit proceeding?

A: Emails and comments may be posted anonymously on the CHPE EIS website if the submitter so requests. Comments should be submitted to DOE (online at the CHPE EIS website or by email or U.S. mail [click here for contact information]) and should include a statement that the commenter's name is to remain anonymous. A form for submitting comments is provided on the CHPE EIS website here.

Q: Does DOE ever issue a Presidential permit that is subject to conditions or that requires changes in the application? Does DOE deny permit applications?

A: DOE thoroughly reviews each application for a Presidential permit. DOE regularly sets conditions (such as reliability limitations or mitigation measures) associated with Presidential permits. Additionally, DOE often requires changes to the applicant's original proposal. There have been at least nine instances where a permit applicant has withdrawn its application voluntarily prior to DOE making a decision on the application.

Q: What is a Record of Decision?

A: The ROD announces DOE's decision to grant (either outright or with conditions) or deny the Presidential permit application and contains the reasons underlying DOE's decision. The ROD would be issued no sooner than 30 days after publication by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) of the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Final EIS in the Federal Register. The ROD would state DOE's decision; identify the alternatives considered in reaching the decision, including the environmentally preferable alternative; identify any mitigation to reduce potential environmental impacts associated with the decision; and describe the factors considered prior to making the decision. Factors that DOE will consider in making its decision will include potential environmental impacts, DOE's reliability findings (addressing the NYISO studies and any comments received thereon), and any other factors that DOE may consider relevant to DOE's decision whether or not to issue the permit. The ROD would be published in the Federal Register and posted on the DOE NEPA website and the CHPE EIS website.

DOE's Environmental Review under the National Environmental Policy Act

Q: What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

A: For major Federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment, NEPA requires preparation of an EIS. An EIS is a detailed analysis of the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action, a no action alternative, and the range of reasonable alternatives.

Both the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and DOE have issued regulations (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500–1508 and 10 CFR Part 1021, respectively) and general guidance regarding the preparation of an EIS and NEPA implementation. These materials are available on the DOE NEPA website at http://nepa.energy.gov.

Q: Why is an EIS needed for the proposed CHPE Project?

A: CHPE's proposed transmission line would cross a U.S. border, and therefore cannot be constructed without a Presidential permit. DOE is required to comply with NEPA prior to deciding whether to issue a Presidential permit. DOE has determined that the appropriate level of NEPA review is an EIS. DOE issued its Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS on June 18, 2010 (75 Federal Register [FR] 34720). The NOI described the proposed CHPE Project and how interested persons could submit comments for consideration by DOE during the NEPA process. DOE subsequently issued a second notice that added a period for submitting scoping comments through April 30, 2012 (77 FR 25472). Scoping reports presenting the comments received during the Scoping Periods are available here.

Q: What alternatives will DOE analyze in the EIS?

A: The EIS will analyze potential environmental impacts of the proposed CHPE Project, any reasonable alternatives to the Applicant's proposal, and a no action alternative.
  1. No Action Alternative. DOE will analyze the environmental impacts if DOE were to deny the permit application and the proposed CHPE transmission line was not constructed. The no action alternative provides a baseline for considering the potential environmental impacts of other alternatives analyzed in the EIS.
  2. Proposed Action. DOE will analyze the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating the transmission line as proposed by CHPEI.
  3. Reasonable Alternatives. DOE will consider other potential alternatives, including alternative routes, for the transmission line. DOE will identify reasonable alternatives based on information from CHPEI, Federal and state agencies, public scoping comments, and its own review of the proposal.
DOE will also evaluate appropriate measures to avoid, minimize, rectify (i.e., repair, rehabilitate, or restore), reduce, or compensate for adverse environmental impacts.

Q: What types of environmental impacts will DOE analyze in the EIS?

A: For each alternative, DOE will analyze potential impacts across the full spectrum of resource areas, including the following:
  • Land Use: Potential impacts on land uses.
  • Transportation and Traffic: Potential congestion and other impacts to local traffic and navigation patterns.
  • Water Resources and Quality: Potential impacts on water quality and floodplains.
  • Ecological Resources: Potential adverse effects to vegetation, aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and ecologically sensitive habitats.
  • Wetlands: Potential impacts on wetlands.
  • Geology and Soils: Potential impacts on existing geography, geology, and soils.
  • Cultural Resources: Potential adverse effects to historic, archeological, and other cultural resources.
  • Visual Resources: Potential aesthetic impacts to existing visual resources.
  • Infrastructure: Potential impacts to existing infrastructure systems.
  • Recreation: Potential impacts to recreational resources.
  • Public Health and Safety: Construction and operation-related safety, process safety, management of process chemicals and materials, and electric and magnetic fields.
  • Hazardous Materials: Pollution prevention and waste management issues, including potential impacts from the generation, treatment, transport, storage, and management of wastes.
  • Air Quality: Potential air quality impacts, including climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Noise: Potential impacts such as from construction activities.
  • Socioeconomic Impacts: Potential impacts on employment and public services (e.g., police protection, schools)
  • Environmental Justice Potential disproportionate effects on minority and low-income populations.
  • Cumulative Effects: Incremental impacts of the proposed CHPE Project that, when to combined with other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, may have potential impacts on the environment.
The level of analysis of each resource area in the EIS will be in accordance with the potential significance of impacts. The above list is not intended to be all inclusive or to imply any predetermination of impacts. DOE will evaluate scoping comments received on the proposed CHPE Project in determining the full range of potential environmental impacts to analyze.

Q: I have heard that being an intervener and becoming a party to a Presidential permit case does not give the party any special privileges in the EIS process. Is that true and, if it is, why is that the case?

A: NEPA provides for broad public participation in the environmental review of a proposed Federal action. NEPA review is not an adjudication or trial, and NEPA does not require intervention in order for an interested stakeholder to participate. There are no contesting “parties” and everyone is encouraged to participate in the NEPA review.

NEPA provides for extensive public participation in the preparation of an EIS through public comments addressing the scope of the EIS analysis and then on a Draft EIS itself. Comments may be provided verbally at public meetings and hearings or in writing. Moreover, DOE considers and responds to all comments submitted on a Draft EIS, even if a comment is submitted anonymously. In the context of a Presidential permit application proceeding, DOE treats intervener filings as NEPA comments to the extent that DOE determines the comments relate to potential environmental impacts.

Q: What is contained in the scoping report?

A: DOE's longstanding practice for Presidential permit applications is to develop a scoping report that summarizes the comments received as a part of the NEPA process, both written and verbal, received during the open scoping period. DOE will consider the scoping comments in defining the range of alternatives and potential environmental impacts to be analyzed in the EIS. Although the scoping report will not identify alternatives or describe the environmental impacts to be studied, that information will be contained in the Draft EIS. Scoping reports for the proposed CHPE Project that have been completed that summarize the comments received and are available here. The Draft EIS also will include a section describing how public scoping comments were considered.

Q: How can I be sure that DOE will consider my comments when it prepares the EIS?

A: DOE is committed to ensuring that interested stakeholders have a meaningful opportunity to participate in its environmental review process. DOE will consider all scoping comments and comments on the Draft EIS. It is DOE's practice to consider all public comments received after the close of the comment periods, to the extent practicable.

Q: How will I know when the Draft EIS is available for me to review? How long will I have to comment on the Ddraft EIS?

A: A notice of the Draft EIS's availability will be published by the USEPA in the Federal Register and the Draft EIS will be posted on the DOE NEPA website and the CHPE EIS website. By regulation, DOE will provide a minimum of 45 days for comments on the Draft EIS, during which time DOE will also hold public hearings to receive comments on the Draft EIS.

Q: What is the process for developing a final EIS?

A: After the close of the comment period on the Draft EIS, DOE will prepare a Final EIS. In the Final EIS, DOE will consider and respond to comments it received on the Draft EIS (both written and oral comments). The availability of the Final EIS will be announced by the USEPA in the Federal Register and the Final EIS will be posted on the DOE NEPA website and on the CHPE EIS website.

Q: What is DOE's process for selecting a third-party contractor to help DOE prepare its EIS?

A: When evaluating an application for a Presidential permit, DOE complies with the regulations at 10 CFR §205.328 (a)-(b), 10 CFR §1021.215(d), and 40 CFR §1506.5(c). DOE is ultimately responsible for selecting the third-party contractor that helps DOE prepare the EIS. DOE selects a contractor after reviewing the candidate firms' qualifications to provide the applicable NEPA analyses and ascertaining the absence of any conflicts of interest. DOE then executes a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Applicant and the contractor, providing that the Applicant will be required to pay the contractor but that DOE will have complete control of the contractor's work on the EIS. In other words, the MOU provides that the contractor works for DOE alone, though its expenses are paid by the Applicant. DOE's regulations require the applicant to bear the expenses of its proposal.

Q: When will DOE make a decision on a permit application?

A: DOE's final determination on whether issuance of the Presidential permit would be consistent with the public interest – and therefore whether it will issue a Presidential permit – will be set forth in a ROD. DOE will issue the ROD no sooner than 30 days after publication by the USEPA in the Federal Register of the NOA of the Final EIS.

Champlain Hudson Power Express, Inc. Application Proceeding

Q: DOE regulations for Presidential permits require applications to contain “Information regarding the environmental impacts…for each routing alternative.” See 10 CFR §205.322(c). The regulations also require “a brief description of all practical alternatives to the proposed facility and a discussion of the general environmental impacts of each alternative.” See 10 CFR §205.322(d). Does the CHPEI application comply with DOE's regulations?

A: The CHPEI application contains sufficient information submitted pursuant to 10 CFR §205.322(c) and (d) for DOE to make the determination of whether an EIS is necessary. See 10 CFR §205.328(a). Specifically, the CHPEI application provides information regarding environmental impacts and alternatives to the proposed facility. The information provided is sufficient to enable DOE to understand the Applicant's proposal and to commence an informed NEPA review. For more information, see Interpretive Guidance on the Requirements of 10 CFR §205.322 (June 2, 2011), available at http://www.oe.energy.gov/permits.htm.

Q: DOE regulations require Presidential permit applicants to submit a series of technical studies related to the operation of the proposed international transmission line and the regional electrical grid. See 10 CFR §205.322(b)(3)(iii). When will CHPEI submit these studies and will the public have an opportunity to review and comment on them?

A: The technical studies required by the Presidential permit regulations are typically prepared either by or in conjunction with regional transmission grid operators that evaluate all transmission projects that are proposed for development within a region. For more information, see Interpretive Guidance on the Requirements of 10 CFR §205.322 (June 2, 2011), available at http://www.oe.energy.gov/permits.htm. In the case of the proposed CHPE Project, NYISO is the regional transmission operator. DOE currently expects that the Applicant's technical reliability studies, prepared in conjunction with NYISO, will be available for review and comment subsequent to this information being provided to DOE by CHPEI. Once DOE receives these studies, they will be posted on the CHPE EIS website, their availability will be announced in the Federal Register, and DOE will provide a minimum of 30 days for written public comments. DOE will consider all comments received on the technical studies when evaluating the electric reliability impacts of the proposed CHPE Project.

Q: Will the State of New York participate in DOE's review of the permit application?

A: The State of New York, through its Department of Public Service (NYSDPS) and Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), is cooperating in the preparation of the EIS. Independent of its request to DOE for a Presidential permit, CHPEI filed an application with the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) for authorization to construct and operate the CHPE transmission system under Article VII of the State Public Service Law. CHPEI filed its initial application with the NYSPSC on March 30, 2010. On April 18, 2013, the NYSPSC issued a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need to CHPEI associated with construction and operation of the proposed CHPE Project.

Champlain Hudson Power Express EIS Website

Q: What is the confidentiality of public comments?

A: All comments received in the CHPEI application proceeding will be made publicly available, including comments on the CHPE EIS made through the CHPE EIS website. Any personally identifiable information, such as names, addresses, and email addresses that may be included in a comment will automatically be made available to the public. Individual commenters may request that DOE withhold their personally identifiable information from public disclosure, and such requests will be honored to the extent allowable by law. If you wish for DOE to withhold your name and/or other personally identifiable information, please state this prominently at the beginning of your comment or check the appropriate box on the comment form. Additionally, DOE will accept comments submitted anonymously.

Q: Can I submit comments through the website?

A: Yes. Please use the form on the Public Involvement page on the CHPE EIS website here to provide comments. Up to five attachments with a combined size of 15 megabytes or less can be included with your comment.

Q: Will I be able to obtain a copy of the EIS through the website?

A: Yes. The full Draft EIS and a summary will be available for download from the Document Library on the CHPE EIS website.

Additional Resources

40 Most Asked Questions about NEPA

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