The NEPA Process
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1969. NEPA ensures that federal agencies consider environmental impacts of actions in planning and decision making, and establishes national policy and goals for the protection of the environment. To comply with NEPA, the Navy will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Legislative Impact Statement (LEIS) to support the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake Land Withdrawal renewal process.
The EIS/LEIS is a unique environmental document which will inform two separate decisions made by two separate decision-making bodies. The EIS will enable the Navy to make environmentally-informed decisions with respect to the Comprehensive Land Use Management Plan (CLUMP) and operations tempo increase. The LEIS is the detailed statement required by law to be included in a recommendation or report on a legislative proposal to Congress. The LEIS will enable Congress to make environmentally-informed decisions in terms of whether to renew the NAWS China Lake land withdrawal. The EIS/LEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts of implementing the proposed actions and alternatives.
The EIS/LEIS Process
To prepare an EIS/LEIS, biologists, engineers, planners and other technical professionals examine existing conditions such as land use, socioeconomics, noise, air quality, water quality, traffic, vegetation and wildlife, hazardous materials, and other sensitive resources. Data is analyzed to determine how the proposed actions may change current conditions. Issues most likely to be of concern to the public are identified and addressed. Where findings indicate that there might be significant impacts, the agency identifies ways to reduce or minimize those impacts.
The EIS/LEIS process includes defined steps. These steps are:
- Notice of Intent (NOI) Publication: Provides an overview of the proposed project
- Scoping: An early and open opportunity for public review of and comment on the intended project
- Draft EIS/LEIS Publication: Considers all public scoping comments
- Public Meetings: A review period by interested parties to comment on the Draft EIS/LEIS
- Final EIS/LEIS Publication: Incorporates and formally responds to all public comments received on the Draft EIS/LEIS and identifies the preferred alternative for implementation
- Record of Decision (ROD): Provides the public record of the agency’s decision, describes the public involvement and agency decision-making process, and presents the commitment to efforts to reduce impacts
This EIS/LEIS is being prepared in accordance with NEPA; CEQ Implementing Regulations, 40 CFR 1500 / 43 FR 55990, 32 CFR 775 (2000); Department of the Interior (DOI), Departmental Manual; requirements of the California Desert Protection Act; and other relevant statutes, regulations, and DOI and BLM requirements.