What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?
An EIS is an in-depth analysis of the environmental impact of a proposed action that is carried out or regulated by the federal government and is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) where that action may have significant impacts on the quality of the human environment. In this case, the EIS will be an in-depth re-analysis of the Surry-Skiffes Creek–Whealton Transmission Line Project that will provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) with additional information, including an effects and impacts analysis to support a reconsideration of the 2017 approval.
Why is an EIS different than an Environmental Assessment (EA)?
An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a concise document that briefly provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether a project will have significant impacts on the human environment and allows compliance with NEPA when no EIS is necessary. If it is determined that significant environmental impacts to the human environment may occur, than an EIS is required. The EIS is a detailed written statement which serves as an action-forcing device to ensure compliance with NEPA while providing full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts.
What is the Process of an EIS?
After determining the need for an EIS a Notice of Intent to prepare a draft is issued and posted in the federal register. The next step includes scoping which solicits comments from agencies and the public. These comments are used to inform the preparation of a draft EIS which will be public noticed for additional comments that will be used to prepare a final EIS (FEIS). After the FEIS has been prepared it will be published in the federal register, and a final round of commenting will be provided. Comments will be compiled and if necessary the FEIS would be amended. At the end of the process a Record of Decision (ROD) will be issued, explaining the Corps decision.
How long will it take to finalize the EIS?
We do not have a set timeframe for completing the EIS, we will do a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the project to render a quality decision that is based in the best science and engineering available to us.
Are you starting from scratch or can you use from the EA process?
Previous information that remains relevant will be used to help facilitate the preparation of an EIS.
Where can I comment on the EIS?
Opportunities to comment will available during scoping and notification of both a Draft and Final EIS development. Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1011
How many opportunities will the public have to participate/offer comment in the EIS process?
Opportunities to comment will available during scoping and notification of both a Draft and Final EIS development.
Why did the Corps not complete an EIS in the first place?
We followed our environmental processes and regulations and came up with a determination that an Environmental Assessment was sufficient in terms of evaluating the impacts to the human environment. The courts have disagreed and we are now in the process of performing an Environmental Impact Statement.
Who is involved in the EIS process?
Provisions of Executive Order 13807 (“One Federal Decision”) apply to this project. One Federal Decision is intended to streamline federal permitting processes, including environmental reviews and authorization decisions, for major infrastructure projects. In accordance with 40 CFR 1501 and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidance, the Corps has identified NOAA Fisheries and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as having authorization decision responsibilities in this action and therefore has invited them to be cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS. Additionally, the Corps has invited the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, National Park Service, and United States Coast Guard as having special expertise important in the review of this action and therefore has invited them to serve as cooperating agencies in the EIS. As the lead federal agency, the Corps will also coordinate with the public and other state and local agencies and Tribes in order to evaluate the range of actions, alternatives, direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposed project.