By Henry Curtis
Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) posted the new and improved Inter-island cable Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
DOE regulatory rules require at least one public hearing and a 30-day comment period. For this project DOE will hold 8 hearings on 6 islands and have a 60-day comment period which will end on October 9, 2012.
This comment period is for determining what alternatives and which impacts should be analyzed in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS is scheduled for released in 2013 and the Final EIS is scheduled for released in 2014.
The DOE recognizes the shortcomings in the previous Programmatic EIS released on December 14, 2010. Then only Big Wind was being considered.
Now, the areas ripe for analysis will include (1) Energy Efficiency, (2) Distributed Renewables, (3) Utility-Scale Renewables, (4) Alternative Transportation Fuels and Modes, and (5) Electrical Transmission and Distribution
Comment letters with “question marks” will be answered while comment letters with only “period marks” will be acknowledged with a form letter.
In 2010 DOE NEPA Document Manager Dr. Jane Summerson spoke at Pitt Community College (North Carolina):
“I'm here to talk to you today about NEPA and the Department of Energy, but first there's a couple of things to mention.
If you can walk out of here today two very general things, I'll feel good. One, is that, your job as college students, is to question things. You need to question accepted policy. You need to question thinks you here in the media. You need to question politicians statements. Because someone is loud, or something is said repeated does not make it correct.
You need to look for the facts, underlying these statements. You need to push back, on those of us who are older, more entrenched, and have been doing the same thing and implementing the same policy for a long time. Because we might not have re-thought of it recently. And it might be time to re-think things. So that is your job, as college students, today. The second thing is, you matter, your voice matters. 
We are required to involve the public. We're not supposed to be going behind closed doors. We are supposed to be open and transparent. we are to seek, the less environmentally damaging options, to try to be aware of how we can protect the environment while still doing the jobs we need to do. We do this in plain language and openly and in a way, that the general public can understand what we are doing.
The process that is defined through this legislation and the documents that we produce, are required to be available before a decision is made, not after. That's very key to us and that actually ends up being the cause of a lot of litigation. We spend a lot of time in courts because, frequently people make up their mind what they want to do, and then they go out, and backfill, their environmental work. That's not acceptable 
There are environmental impacts with all renewable energy forms. 
We're required to disclose conflicting views, and we get conflicting views. But we can't just pick and choose. If it is a valid, supported, scientific view that doesn't happen to agree with us, it goes in, our EIS and we discuss it and we present it. 
We have challenges though, with renewable energies. Any new energy source, you have a challenge integrating it, into the overall, electric grid and the system. Our electric grid is pieced together  it is not well integrated, and its getting old. It's a huge, problem, that this country, needs, to deal with.
I can't begin to tell you how, we're going to do it. But I know with every, renewable energy project, we bring in place, the first question is, how are they going to feed into the grid. It's a big problem that we've got to deal with. So this is something, your generation I'm afraid, is really going to have to confront. 
We have not yet found, an energy source, that doesn't have some type of significant environmental impact ”
For additional information see the Federal Register (Friday, August 10, 2012)