LANL Releases Draft Environmental Assessment for a Third Electrical Line to Cross the Caja del Rio and the Rio Grande

Since at least 1999 Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has proposed running an additional 12-mile, 115 kilovolt electric line to the two that already cross the Caja del Rio and the Rio Grande to the Pajarito Plateau, claiming it needs the additional power line to run its supercomputers.

But this is the first time the proposal has come with a draft environmental assessment, or EA, which is over 200-pages long.  For that reason, this Update is limited to informing you simply that the draft EA is out and that the public process remains flawed, an observation the Update will develop next week.  CCNS is working on draft sample public comments that you can use.

Public comments about the proposed scope of the draft EA were due on May 21, 2021.  Now, 2 ½ years later, the draft EA has been released.  In those 2 ½ years, the public concerns about the care and preservation of the 106,000-acre Caja del Rio have grown.

The Caja del Rio is located between the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe rivers to the south and beyond Diablo Canyon to the north.  Currently there are efforts to create a national monument to preserve it.  To learn more, go to the beautiful website of the Caja del Rio Coalition at

The draft EA is a joint effort by DOE and NNSA, the cooperating Santa Fe National Forest, and the participating Bureau of Land Management.  Together they are proposing the power transmission line to carry power from the Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM, bulk electric system.  The proposal is for a 12.5 mile long, three phase, 115 kilovolt overhead power transmission line on large pole structures — 9.6 miles would span the Caja del Rio section of the Santa Fe National Forest and 2.7 miles would cross the Rio Grande in White Rock Canyon and terminate at a LANL substation on land managed by DOE and NNSA.  Access roads and lay down areas would be required.

Importantly, the EA recommends an amendment to the Santa Fe National Forest Plan to allow issuance of a special use permit to construct and operate the power line infrastructure outside some areas of the designated or existing utility corridor.

Now that you know, let’s form a working group to bring together concerns and expertise to address LANL’s proposal.  If you are interested, please email

The Draft EA is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: or directly at 

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  1. Wednesday, January 17, 2024 – Public Comments due about Los Alamos National Laboratory Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project Draft Environmental Assessment (DOE/EA-2911) for construction and operation of a new 115 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line and upgrading LANL’s existing infrastructure. CCNS is working on sample public comments for you to use. The Draft EA is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: or directly at



About 60 people attended the Day of Action Against Nuclear Weapons on the Santa Fe Plaza on Sunday, November 26, 2023 to sing with the Raging Grannies and to hear from speakers on many related nuclear issues, including uranium mining, nuclear colonization, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, expanding plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory and waste disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, both sites in New Mexico.  The event was organized by the New Mexico Peace Festivals.


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