18 CFR 292.211 - Petition for initial determination on whether a project has a substantial adverse effect on the environment (AEE petition).
(a) An applicant that has filed a petition under § 292.210 may also file an AEE petition with the Commission for an initial determination on whether the project satisfies the requirement that it has no substantial adverse effect on the environment as specified in § 292.208(b)(1).
(b) The filing of the AEE petition does not relieve the applicant of the filing requirements of § 292.208(c).
(c) The Commission will act on the AEE petition only if the Commission has granted the applicant's commitment of resources petition under § 292.210.
(d) Time of filing petition. The applicant may file the AEE petition with the application for license or exemption or at any time before the Commission issues the license or exemption.
(e) Contents of petition. The AEE petition must identify the project and request that the Commission make an initial determination on the adverse environmental effects requirements in § 292.208(b)(1).
(f) The Director of the Office of Energy Projects will make the initial determination on the AEE petition. In making this determination, the Director will consider the following:
(1) Any proposed mitigative measures;
(2) The consistency of the proposal with local, regional, and national resource plans and programs;
(3) The mandatory terms and conditions of fish and wildlife agencies under section 210(j) of PURPA, or section 30(c) of the Federal Power Act; or the recommended terms and conditions of fish a wildlife agencies under Section 10(j) of the Federal Power Act, whichever is appropriate; and
(4) Any other information which the Director believes is relevant to consider.
(g) Initial finding on the petition. The Director of the Office of Energy Projects will make the initial determination on the AEE petition after the close of the public notice period for the accepted application. If the Director's initial determination finds:
(1) No substantial adverse effect on the environment, the Commission must wait at least 45 days before making a final determination that the project satisfies the requirements of § 292.208(b)(1).
(2) A substantial adverse effect on the environment, the applicant may file, within 90 days of the initial finding that the project does not satisfy the requirements in § 292.208(b)(1), proposed measures to mitigate the adverse environmental effects found.
(i) The Commission will provide written notice of the Director's initial finding on the petition to the applicant, to the federal and state agencies that the applicant must consult under § 4.38 of this chapter and to any intervenors in the proceeding.
(ii) The Commission will publish notice of the Director's initial finding in the Federal Register.
(h) Notice and comment on the mitigative measures.
(1) The Commission will issue notice of the mitigative measures filed by an applicant under paragraph (g)(2) of this section and will publish the notice in the Federal Register. The mitigative measures will be on file and available for inspection or copying during regular business hours in the Public Reference Room maintained by the Division of Public Information;
(2) The Commission will provide the State and interested persons within 90 days from the date the notice is issued to review and submit comments on the mitigative measures. The applicant for license or exemption has 15 days after the expiration of the public comment period to respond to the comments filed with the Commission.
(i) Material amendments to application. The proposed mitigative measures filed under paragraph (g)(2) of this section will not be considered a material amendment to the application unless the Commission finds that the proposed measures are unnecessary to, or exceed the scope of, mitigating substantial adverse effects. If the Commission finds the proposed mitigative measures constitute a material amendment, the application will be considered filed with the Commission on the date on which the applicant filed the proposed mitigative measures, and all other provisions of § 4.35(a) of this chapter will apply.
(j) Final determination on the petition. The Commission will make a final determination on the petition at the time the Commission issues a license or exemption for the project.
(1) If, between the Commission's initial and final findings on the AEE petition, the State does not take any action under § 292.208(b)(2), the failure to take action can be the basis for a presumption that there is not substantial adverse effect on the environment (as that term is defined in § 292.202(q)).
(2) If the presumption in paragraph (k)(1) of this section comes into effect, it:
(i) Is only available for those adverse effects related to the natural, recreational, cultural, or scenic attributes of the environment;
(ii) Can only operate during the time between the Commission's initial and final findings on the AEE petition; and
(iii) Has no affect on the Commission's independent obligation to find that the project will not have a substantial adverse effect on the environment under § 292.208(b)(1).
(3) The presumption in paragraph (k)(1) of this section does not take effect if the State, the Commission or an interested person demonstrates that the State has acted to protect the natural watercourse under § 292.208(b)(2).
(4) The presumption in paragraph (k)(1) of this section can be rebutted if:
(i) The Commission determines that the project will have a substantial adverse effect on the environment related to the environmental attributes listed in paragraph (k)(2)(i) of this section; or
(ii) Any interested person, including a State, demonstrates that the project will have a substantial adverse effect on the environment related to the environmental attributes listed in paragraph (k)(2)(i) of this section.