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Permitting - March 2015


The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has found no new significant impacts after completing the first of two site-specific Environmental Assessments (EA) for Phase I of Power Company of Wyoming’s (PCW) 3GW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project, according to Recharge.

The initial EA analyzed the project’s three primary infrastructure components: the Phase I haul road and facilities, West Sinclair rail facility and a quarry that will be developed to supply up to 70 percent of the rock for the roads and laydown yards.

BLM, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, determined that the developer’s site-specific plans for development for these components are approved, and will have “no significant effects beyond those already analyzed and disclosed” in the agency’s 2012 final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The site-specific EA is tiered to the project-wide EIS.
The project will be located on billionaire Philip Anschutz’s enormous 500-sq.-mile ranch outside the small city of Rawlins, Wyo. He formed PCW to evaluate and harvest the winds at the site. It is one of the few places in the country with the highest quality Class 6 and Class 7 winds.

The company plans to construct the complex in two, 500-turbine phases. With 1,000 turbines total, the 3GW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project would have more wind capacity than 43 states.

Power from the wind farm would go mainly to Southern California as well as Arizona and Nevada via a 725-mile, 600-kV direct-current (DC) transmission line – the TransWest Express Transmission Project – that crosses four Western states. It would have the capacity to transport the wind farm’s entire output – enough electricity for one million homes.

California Quarry Opposed

According to the Sierra Star, a boisterous crowd of more than 100 community members came to the Oakhurst Community Center in Oakhurst, Calif., to speak out concerning the proposed Austin Quarry. The quarry, which would be built on the corner of Highway 41 and Highway 145, would be a 238-acre, 400-ft. deep quarry owned by Vulcan Materials.

The project manager and Planning Commission’s Deputy Director Matt Treber said neither the county nor board had taken a stance on the subject.

Treber announced that the county and Benchmark Consulting Inc, the consultant firm hired by the county to develop a Environmental Impact Report (EIR), is in the process of reviewing close to 300 comments that were sent to the county during the 45-day public comment period which ended Jan. 5.

“The consultants are hired by the county and … I want to make it clear that the document is not created by the county or the company (Vulcan) it is an individual consultant,” Treber commented.

Benchmark Consulting Inc., which promotes itself as a full service construction-consulting firm, was chosen by the county to review all county and state requirements, review and develop the EIR, and review public comments before advising the county on the building of the Austin Quarry.

Florida Quarry Causes Uproar

According to News 13, a sand plant controversy has pitted Lake County, Fla., landowners against Cemex Construction.

Located off U.S. Route 27, south of Clermont, Fla., there are thousands of acres of citrus groves and other farmland. It’s an area developers want to turn into the project called Wellness Way, with homes, health sector businesses and about 2,000 new jobs.

That’s why many people were shocked to find the county’s staff recommended approval of the 1,200-acre sand plant.

The issue went before a zoning board, and landowners, mayors of surrounding cities and other residents unanimously voiced concerns about the Cemex mine, which would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next 30 years.
Roger Sims, an attorney for Cemex, said property rights are important – for both parties.

“Our property rights are just as important as anybody else’s,” Sims said. “Our owner has the right to develop his property the way he sees fit as long as he complies with the law.”

During the meeting, it became clear the sand mine will be facing an uphill battle. None of the surrounding landowners said they’d sell an inch of their land so that Cemex could build a road to U.S. Route 27 for the company’s 160 trucks per day.

The company suddenly said it would build the road to Orange County instead, but commissioners voted to deny that permit, stating there were no traffic studies presented to support that idea.