What is an environmental review in a renewable energy project? Environmental review is the identification and evaluation of the potential impact a renewable energy project (REP) may have on natural and human resources. As is typical for many industrial projects, a comprehensive review of environmental impacts for a REP is used to determine the full suite of federal, state, and local regulatory requirements necessary for construction and operation. Many REPs include a collaborative role with a governmental agency. When a federal government action or approval is required, compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is also required, which may include the preparation of an Environmental Assessment that can be completed in parallel with permitting activities. Many states have a similar environmental review process that should also be considered even when federal approval is not required for the REP. Quantifying environmental impacts informs permit applications and provides the detail required to demonstrate the benefits of the REP. Completion of environmental review is required before any permits can be issued for the REP.
A thorough environmental review should describe the purpose and need for the proposed action along with a detailed project description that describes the inputs and outputs, site description, and cumulative environmental impacts. In that context, impacts on the following resources should be considered:
- Land Use
- Visual and Aesthetic Resources
- Cultural Resources
- Air Quality
- Geology and Soils
- Water Resources
- Biological Resources
- Waste Management and Hazardous Materials
- Utilities and Energy Requirements
- Transportation and Traffic
- Public and Occupational Health and Safety
- Socioeconomics and Environmental Justice
Completing an environmental review not only determines certain regulatory requirements, but is also a useful first step in stakeholder engagement by informing the public about the project while also identifying strategies to potentially avoid, minimize, and mitigate environmental impacts. Final permitting requirements will be established by quantifying impacts and complementary analyses of the site and operational requirements, which may include the following:
- Air permitting to include emissions and odor countermeasures.
- Land Use
- Traffic Operations
- Solid Waste
- Construction Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan
- Hazardous Waste License
- Industrial Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan
- Process and Sanitary Water Permit
- Wastewater Discharge Permit
- Tankage Requirements and Permitting
- Spill Prevention, Control and Counter Measure Plan
- Environmental Risk Mitigation and Employee Safety Plan
Early engagement with both regulators and project stakeholders is important for an efficient permitting and construction process followed by a successful operations phase.
Large renewable energy and biochemical consulting firms certainly have experts in the more common areas like bio and renewable fuels, biomaterials, biomass and biomass power, biomaterials, biochemicals, and biotechnologies. But, they also have expertise in a wide variety of specialty services like expert witness testimony, techno-economic analysis, due diligence, feasibility studies, budgeting, project management, technology assessment, insurance, due diligence, risk management, benchmarking, intellectual property, HAZOP, financial modeling, competitor analysis, and assistance with RIN and Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) matters. These firms should also be able to assist with other things like Aspen plus, logistics, bioreactor design, municipal solid waste remediation, syngas and bio-based product development, carbon credits, climate change analysis, environmental permitting, equipment sales, experimental validations, grant writing, IP strategy, life cycle analysis (LCA), plant operations, plant sales and auctions, risk analysis and Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).
With over 150 consultants worldwide, Lee Enterprises Consulting has the diverse experts and geographical reach to assist in virtually any bioeconomy project. Our highly qualified teams bring a unique integration of technical, scientific, regulatory, and hands-on experience to any project. Look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full-service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. See a video about LEC here. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.