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Negotiating the NEPA Maze: It Really Is Rocket Science. Start. Contents. NEPA Process Overview: Who, What, Where, When, and Why? NEPA Documentation: An Interactive Look Helpful Resources. Next. NEPA Process Overview:. Who, What, Where, When, and Why?. Return to Contents Page.

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contents
Contents
  • NEPA Process Overview: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?
  • NEPA Documentation: An Interactive Look
  • Helpful Resources
nepa process overview

Next

NEPA Process Overview:

Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

Return to Contents Page

what is nepa

Next

What is NEPA?
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is our basic national charter for protection of the environment
  • Two basic objectives
    • Provide full disclosure and consider consequences of proposed Federal actions
    • Ensure that environmental information is available to Agency decision makers and the public before decisions are made

Return to Contents Page

what does nepa require

Next

What Does NEPA Require?
  • Federal Agencies must
    • Consider environmental values in planning before action is taken
    • Consider alternatives to proposed action
    • Incorporate environmental considerations with technical and economic factors into decisions
    • Make environmental information available to public
    • Prepare thorough and clear statements to assess environmental impacts

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why does nepa apply to licensing actions

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Why Does NEPA Apply to Licensing Actions?
  • Licensing launches, reentries, and launch and reentry sites is considered a Federal action and is therefore subject to the requirements of NEPA
  • AST is responsible for analyzing environmental impacts associated with licensed launches
  • AST’s responsibilities under NEPA are outlined in FAA Order 1050.1D

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how does nepa affect licensing process

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How Does NEPA Affect Licensing Process?
  • Environmental determination, i.e., Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or Record of Decision (ROD) must be made before license can be issued
  • Changes to operations that impact the environment must be evaluated in separate documentation
  • NEPA process can be used to document compliance with other statutory and international requirements
  • No action can be taken (e.g., start construction) until ROD or FONSI is issued

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who prepares nepa documentation

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Who Prepares NEPA Documentation?
  • Federal agency undertaking program, project, plan, regulation, or licensing/ permitting activity is responsible
  • Agencies may use contractors to prepare environmental documentation; however, document is submitted by the Agency to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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what types of nepa documentation exist

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What Types of NEPA Documentation Exist?
  • Categorical Exclusion - action that normally does not, individually or cumulatively, have significant impact on quality of the human environment
  • Environmental Assessment (EA) - analysis of proposed action and reasonable alternatives (including no action) that could result in preparation of Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or FONSI
  • FONSI - outcome of EA that documents no significant impact requiring the preparation of an EIS

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what types of nepa documentation exist continued

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What Types of NEPA Documentation Exist (continued)?
  • EIS - detailed analysis of environmental consequences of proposed action and reasonable alternatives (including no action), cumulative impacts, and mitigation actions
  • ROD - concise summary of EIS, alternative selected and reasons for selection

Return to Contents Page

what are ast s responsibilities under nepa

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What are AST’s Responsibilities under NEPA?
  • Assist license applicant in identifying potentially significant impacts
  • Review environmental information submitted by applicant
  • Prepare NEPA documentation, conduct scoping, coordination, and public review
  • Respond to public comments received during the comment period
  • Issue environmental determination

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what steps should applicant take

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What Steps Should Applicant Take?
  • Early in the process the applicant should
    • Consult AST on level and scope of environmental documentation needed
    • Conduct preliminary studies to determine impact of proposed action and identify reasonable alternatives
    • Submit applications for all permits or approvals
    • Notify AST of other Federal, Tribal, regional, state or local requirements that may apply
    • Notify AST of private citizens and groups interested in proposed action
  • Contact AST’s environmental specialists

for guidance

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when should nepa be initiated

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When Should NEPA be Initiated?
  • Early in planning process - before decisions are made and actions are taken
  • Prevents prematurely limiting choice of reasonable alternatives
  • Early application of NEPA may prevent subsequent schedule slips
  • Applicant should contact AST early in process to initiate NEPA review

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nepa documentation

Next

NEPA Documentation

An Interactive Look

Return to Contents Page

slide15

Further NEPA Analysis Required

Next

Proposed Action

No Further Documentation2

Yes

Categorical Exclusion1

Environmental Assessment

Known Significant Impact

No Significant Impact3

Finding of No Significant Impact

Yes

Proceed with Project

Notice of Intent

1 – If no extraordinary circumstances

2 – FAA may document categorical exclusions

3 – Or mitigated below level of significance

4 – Publication of FEIS in Federal Register for minimum 30 day public review

Scoping Process

NEPA Process

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

EPA’s Notice of Availability

Public Review (45 days minimum)

Public Hearing

Final Environmental Impact Statement

EPA’s Notice of Availability4

Return to Contents Page

Minimum 30 day waiting period

Record of Decision

other nepa topics of interest

Environmental Monitoring

Written Reevaluation

Supplemental NEPA Documentation

Back

Other NEPA Topics of Interest

Tiering

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proposed action and alternatives

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Proposed Action and Alternatives
  • Describes range of alternatives including proposed action and no action
  • Reasonable alternatives may include but are not limited to
    • Launch facility locations,
    • Configuration of the launch facility,
    • Extent of launch facility operations,
    • Types of launch vehicles, and
    • Range of launch trajectories

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developing proposed action and alternatives

Next

Developing Proposed Action and Alternatives
  • To assist applicants in identifying proposed action and alternatives, consider the following questions
    • Where is your preferred site?
    • Have you identified alternative sites?
    • What is your proposed launch manifest?
    • Have you considered using a different number of flights?
    • Have you identified a preferred configuration for the site?
    • Have you considered any alternative site configurations?

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developing proposed action and alternatives continued

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Developing Proposed Action and Alternatives (continued)
    • Have you identified a preferred family or class of vehicle(s)?
    • Have you identified an alternative family or class of vehicle(s)?
    • Have you identified a preferred trajectory for launch(es)?
    • Have you identified an alternative trajectory for launch(es)?
  • Answering these questions helps define the proposed action

Return to Contents Page

categorical exclusion

Back

Categorical Exclusion
  • Written for actions which in the agency’s experience do not individually or cumulatively have a significant impact on the environment and do not require preparation of an EA or EIS
  • Actions that are routine
  • Normally excluded actions may require more extensive review if potential exists for public controversy
  • AST’s categorical exclusions are listed in FAAOrder 1050.1D

Return to Contents Page

environmental assessment ea

Next

Environmental Assessment (EA)
  • Defined as concise document that
    • Provides analysis to determine if EIS is necessary
    • Serves as the Agency’s compliance with NEPA when EIS is not necessary
    • Facilitates preparation of EIS when necessary
  • Addresses environmental effects that are not anticipated to cause significant impacts when no categorical exclusion exists
  • Evaluates actions that have potential effects that can be mitigated to less than significant levels

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ea continued

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EA Continued
  • Less detailed than an EIS but must address similar elements including
    • Description of proposed action
    • Purpose and need for action
    • Alternatives including no action
    • Description of affected environment
    • Consequences of proposed action and alternatives
    • Cumulative and long-term environmental effects
    • Degree of controversy
    • Mitigation measures (if appropriate)

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ea continued23

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EA Continued
  • Determines whether there will be significant impacts from the proposed action
  • EA process ends in Finding of No Significant Impact (action may proceed) or preparation of EIS
  • EA process generally takes 6-12 months, but depending on complexity can take much longer

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finding of no significant impact fonsi

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Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
  • Decision document which follows completion of an EA and states Agency’s determination of no significant impact
  • Subject to 30-day review and comment by public if proposed action is
    • An issue of national concern
    • Similar to actions which require an EIS
    • An unprecedented action

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notice of intent noi

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Notice of Intent (NOI)
  • FAA publishes NOI after making decision to prepare EIS
  • Initiates public scoping and EIS process
  • Invites comments on scope of EIS
  • Includes date, time, and location of any planned public scoping meetings
  • Identifies lead agency and any cooperating agencies

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lead agency responsibility

Back

Lead Agency Responsibility
  • Responsible for facts, opinions, and judgments upon which final environmental determination is based
  • Performs independent review of information provided by applicant
  • Approves contractor for EIS process and develops third party contracting mechanism see 40 CFR § 1506.5(c) and FAA Order 1050.1D paragraph 52

Return to Contents Page

cooperating agency responsibility

Back

Cooperating Agency Responsibility
  • Participate in the NEPA process at the request of the lead agency
  • Participate in the scoping process
  • Assume responsibility for preparing portions of NEPA analysis at the lead agency’s request
  • Provide staff and funding to participate in the NEPA process

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scoping process

Back

Scoping Process
  • If an EIS is required, scoping is conducted to
    • Solicit public opinion and opinions of other agencies
    • Determine potentially significant impacts to be analyzed in detail
    • Identify and eliminate from study non-significant issues
    • Allocate assignments for preparing EIS among participating agencies
    • Identify environmental review and consultation requirements
    • Develop a schedule for preparing EIS

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environmental impact statement eis

Next

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
  • Prepared when a proposed action may result in significant impacts
  • Should be analytical and concise with a level of analysis commensurate with the potential for impact
  • EIS process generally takes 12-18 months but can take much longer if controversial issues or complex analysis are involved

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eis continued

Next

EIS Continued
  • An EIS should contain
    • Cover sheet
    • Summary
    • Table of contents
    • Purpose of and need for action
    • Alternatives including proposed action
    • Affected environment
    • Environmental consequences
    • List of preparers
    • List of agencies, organizations, and persons to whom copies of document are sent (Distribution List)
    • Index
    • Appendices

Return to Contents Page

cover sheet summary table of contents

Back

Cover Sheet, Summary, Table of Contents
  • Cover sheet – summarizes proposed action, agency point of contact, abstract, and date by which comments must be received
  • Summary – summarizes EIS analysis stressing conclusions and areas of controversy
  • Table of contents – lists sections of document, figures, and tables

Return to Contents Page

purpose of and need for action

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Purpose of and Need for Action
  • Outlines the purpose and need which FAA is addressing by proposing alternatives and proposed action
  • Defines parameters for a reasonable range of alternatives
  • Forms framework for remainder of document including evaluation of alternatives

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alternatives including proposed action

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Alternatives Including Proposed Action
  • Describes range of alternatives including proposed action and no action
  • This section should
    • Define the issues
    • Inform the public
    • Provide basis for choice among options,
    • Explore and evaluate alternatives
    • Discuss reasons why some alternatives were eliminated from further study

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affected environment
Baseline description of proposed site and alternative sites

Considers issues including

Air quality - Water quality

Land use - Noise

Biological resources - Geology/soils

Cultural resources - Health/safety

Socioeconomic issues - Airspace

Environmental justice

Back

Affected Environment

Return to Contents Page

environmental consequences

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Environmental Consequences
  • Analyzes impacts resulting from development and operation of launch site and launch activities
  • Addresses resources and issues discussed in the affected environment section
  • Evaluates direct and indirect, cumulative, and beneficial impacts
  • Mitigation measures must also be considered

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mitigation measures

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Mitigation Measures
  • Means by which adverse project impacts can be diminished or eliminated
  • Steps in mitigation planning
    • Identify impacts and determine which can be eliminated or reduced
    • Select mitigation measures based on consultation with agencies and affected parties
    • Implement mitigation measures
    • Monitor and report on effectiveness of measures

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list of preparers and distribution list

Back

List of Preparers and Distribution List
  • List of Preparers – list of names and qualifications of persons who were primarily responsible for preparing the EIS
  • Distribution List – list of persons or agencies to whom copies of the document were provided

Return to Contents Page

index and appendices

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Index and Appendices
  • Index – Should have a level of detail sufficient to focus on topics of interest
  • Appendix – items may include
    • Material prepared in connection with EIS
    • Material to substantiate analysis in EIS
    • Analysis relevant to facilitate decision making

Return to Contents Page

draft eis

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Draft EIS
  • Circulate Draft EIS and provide copies to cooperating agencies and Federal, state, or local agencies authorized to enforce environmental standards
  • Request comments from agencies
  • Address, consider, and include or summarize comments in the Final EIS

Return to Contents Page

notice of availability noa

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Notice of Availability (NOA)
  • Draft and Final EISs must be filed with EPA’s Office of Federal Activities
  • EPA files NOAs in Federal Register weekly
  • EPA’s filing starts public review period for Draft EIS and waiting period for Final EIS
  • No decision can be made until 90 days after publication of NOA for Draft EIS or until 30 days after publication of NOA for Final EIS

Return to Contents Page

public review

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Public Review
  • Comments are solicited from
    • Federal agencies with jurisdiction
    • Appropriate state and local agencies
    • Potentially affected Indian tribes
    • Any agency that requested copies of document
    • Applicant
    • Public
    • Interested public organizations

Return to Contents Page

public hearing procedures

Back

Public Hearing Procedures
  • AST sponsors public meetings or hearings when appropriate or required by statute
  • Criteria for meetings include
    • Substantial environmental controversy over proposed action or interest in holding meeting
    • Request for hearing by another agency with jurisdiction over action
  • Hearing held no earlier than 15 days after draft is released

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final eis

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Final EIS
  • Must consider comments both individually and cumulatively
  • Responses to comments raised during public review must be included in the Final EIS
  • Comments may be received on the Final EIS

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record of decision rod

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Record of Decision (ROD)
  • Public record of a decision indicating final approval of a proposed action
  • Identifies all alternatives considered by Agency
  • States whether means to minimize environmental harm were adopted

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what happens next

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What Happens Next?
  • Following release of ROD, 30-day waiting/cooling off period starts before action can proceed
  • Agency open to possible legal action
  • Applicants for AST license must still meet other requirements to obtain license
supplemental nepa documentation

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Supplemental NEPA Documentation
  • Prepare supplements to draft or final EISs if substantive changes are made to the proposed action
  • Prepare, approve, circulate, and file in the same manner as draft or final EISs but scoping is not required

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tiering

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Tiering
  • Agencies are encouraged to tier to eliminate repetitive discussions of issues
  • After Programmatic or other broad EIS has been prepared subsequent EA or EIS only needs to summarize issues previously discussed

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written reevaluation

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Written Reevaluation
  • AST exercises judgment to determine when this is appropriate
  • May be appropriate when
    • Proposed action conforms to plans or projects for which prior EISs or FONSIs have been filed
    • Data and analyses in previous EISs or FONSIs are substantially valid
    • All conditions and requirements of prior approval have been or will be met in the current action

Return to Contents Page

environmental monitoring

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Environmental Monitoring
  • FAA may require environmental monitoring as part of the license
  • Monitoring may include pre- and post-launch observation for species of concern, surface water sampling, vegetation surveys, and other actions as appropriate

Return to Contents Page

helpful resources

Next

Helpful Resources

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guidelines document

Next

Guidelines Document
  • Aids applicants in understanding FAA’s policies and procedures
  • Guidelines are intended to be used in conjunction with FAAOrder 1050.1D, NEPA, and other environmental laws

Return to Contents Page

programmatic eis

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Programmatic EIS
  • Programmatic EIS for LicensingLaunches
  • Addresses environmental impacts of licensing launches and two alternatives
  • Three categories of impacts considered
    • Atmospheric
    • Noise
    • Other environmental effects
  • Considers possible mitigation measures

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other environmental regulations

Next

Other Environmental Regulations
  • Many environmental regulations and executive orders may apply to actions
    • E.O. 12114 - Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions
    • Endangered Species Act
    • Federal Coastal Zone Management Act
    • Marine Mammal Protection Act
    • Clean Air Act
    • E.O. 11990 - Protection of Wetlands
    • National Historic Preservation Act
  • For a more extensive list refer to Appendix E of the Guidelines Document

Return to Contents Page

ast staff

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AST Staff
  • For more information or to discuss a particular proposed project please contact
    • Michon Washington (202) 267-9305Michon.Washington@FAA.gov
    • Doug Graham(202) 267-8568Doug.Graham@FAA.gov
  • Visit AST’s Website: http://ast.faa.gov