With respect to hydroelectric projects, FERC safeguards the environment by:
- Ensuring that planned projects will minimize damage to the environment.
- Requiring that all hydropower applicants communicate with federal and state Natural Resources agencies, Indian tribes, and state water quality agencies prior to submitting an application to FERC.
- Ensuring that all license applicants perform the necessary studies to base an informed decision on the project.
- Issuing draft Environmental Assessments (EAs) or draft Environmental Documents for comment. FERC makes electronic copies of the draft and final EISs available to the public.
- Incorporating license requirements designed to reduce environmental impacts.
- Visiting projects that are requesting relicenses or license amendments. Scoping meetings are held to determine the most important environmental resources to address in an EA or EIS.
- Maintaining a licensing handbook with guidelines for preparing Exhibit E, the environmental information exhibit required to be included with each application.
The Office of Energy Project's voluntary "third-party contracting" (3-PC) program enables applicants seeking certificates for natural gas facilities or licenses for hydroelectric power projects to fund a third-party contractor to assist the Commission in meeting its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
The 3-PC program involves the use of independent contractors to assist Commission staff in its environmental review and preparation of environmental documents. A third-party contractor is selected by, and works under the direct supervision and control of Commission staff, and is paid for by the applicant. Prospective applicants considering participation in this 3-PC program should meet with Commission staff to discuss their proposals, and to answer any questions they might have relative to the program itself.