Environmental Review Process
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is intended to assist the Surface Transportation Board (Board) and the public in identifying and assessing the potential environmental consequences of a proposed action and its alternatives before a decision on the proposed action is made. The Board's Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) is responsible for ensuring that the Board complies with NEPA and related environmental and cultural resources statutes.
The first stage of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is scoping. Scoping is an open process for determining the scope of environmental issues to be addressed in the EIS. As part of the scoping process, OEA has developed, and has made available for public comment in the Notice of Intent, a Draft Scope of Study for the EIS. Scoping meetings were held in the project area to provide further opportunities for public involvement and input during the scoping process. In addition to comments on the Draft Scope of Study, interested parties were also encouraged to comment on potential alternative routes for the proposed rail line. OEA also solicited scoping comments from federal, state, and local agencies to gain their input on the Draft Scope of Study for the EIS. OEA will update the public once a range of reasonable alternatives has been defined and will invite comment from the public on those alternatives prior to issuance of the Final Scope of Study.
After issuing the Final Scope of Study, OEA will prepare a Draft EIS for the proposed project. The Draft EIS will address the environmental issues and concerns identified during the scoping process and assess and compare potential alternatives including the no-action alternative. The Draft EIS will also contain OEA's preliminary recommendations for environmental mitigation measures and any mitigation measures proposed by GLBT. Upon its completion, the Draft EIS will be made available for review and comment by the public, government agencies, and other interested parties. OEA will prepare a Final EIS that considers comments on the Draft EIS. In reaching its decision in this case, the Board will consider the Draft EIS, the Final EIS, all environmental comments, and OEA's recommendations regarding the environmentally preferred alternative and environmental mitigation measures.
OEA will be inviting several agencies to participate in this EIS process as cooperating agencies on the basis of their jurisdiction by law or special expertise.