Diablo Green Consulting brings a unique combination of experience and capability to move projects expeditiously through the planning and permitting process to construction and operation. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires all federal agencies to implement procedures to make environmental consideration a necessary part of an agency’s decision-making process.
What is NEPA?
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) was enacted in 1969 (as amended). NEPA was one of many legislative and executive responses to growing concern over the condition of the environment and what human actions were doing to the environment.
Why do I need a NEPA evaluation for my project?
Projects involving federal funding or licensing may require evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
Title I of NEPA contains a Declaration of National Environmental Policy which requires the federal government to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony. Section 102 requires federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, all federal agencies are to prepare detailed statements assessing the environmental impact of and alternatives to major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. These statements are commonly referred to as environmental impact statements (EISs).
Section 102 of the NEPA also requires federal agencies to lend appropriate support to initiatives and programs designed to anticipate and prevent a decline in the quality of mankind’s world environment. Title II of NEPA establishes the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The Council on Environmental Quality, which is headed by a fulltime Chair, oversees NEPA. A staff assists the Council.
NEPA Procedures – FCC Projects
Diablo Green specializes in preparing and evaluating telecommunications facilities for NEPA compliance. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules implementing NEPA are found at Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1, Subpart I, rule sections 1.1301 to 1.1319 (47 CFR Rules and Regulations). Such sites are managed by and environmental compliance is overseen by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
NEPA compliance for wireless antenna facilities includes an evaluation of current regulations, including 47 CFR and the Nationwide Programmatic Agreements of 2001 and 2005. The preparation of NEPA documentation under 47 CFR includes an evaluation of eight primary points as defined within Section 1.1307 (a)(1) through (8), including:
- Wilderness areas
- Wildlife preserves
- Endangered and threatened species and designated critical habitats
- Historic places
- Native American religious sites
- Flood plains
- Wetlands and surface features
- High intensity white lights
The NEPA Process
Diablo Green coordinates with various state and federal government agencies, including State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs), Native American tribal groups, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), state wildlife agencies, the National Wilderness Preservation System, and various other state and federal agencies. Diablo Green evaluates potential impacts to endangered and threatened species, inclusive of designated critical habitats and concerns related to migratory birds. Diablo Green also evaluates locations of trails on the National Park Service National Trails System and evaluates the location of the site relative to National Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Diablo Green also has extensive experience with the FCC’s Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS), which is a web-based electronic tribal notification system. Upon the request of the client and receipt of the proposed plans for the site, Diablo Green will notify tribal groups with areas of interest in the vicinity of the site. Subsequently, follow-up letters are sent to the Native American tribal organizations which do not respond via the TCNS system.
If the findings of the NEPA impact assessment document that the proposed actions will not affect the environmentally sensitive categories defined under Section 1.1307, Section 1.1306 states that the licensee may proceed with the project without providing project-specific documentation to the FCC. If the findings of the NEPA checklist report determine that the proposed activities will or may impact one of the special interest items, Diablo Green has the capability to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) as defined within the regulations.
NEPA Procedures – HUD Projects
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules implementing NEPA are found at 24 CFR Part 58. HUD is required to implement procedures to make environmental consideration a necessary part of the decision-making process. Factors to be evaluated by Diablo Green will include:
- Historic Preservation
- Flood Plain Management
- Wetlands Protection
- Coastal Zone Management Act
- Sole Source Aquifers (SSA)
- Endangered Species Act (ESA of 1973, as amended)
- Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- Air Quality
- Farmland Protection Policy Act
- Environmental Justice
- Noise Abatement and Control
- Toxic/Hazardous/Radioactive Materials, Contamination, Chemicals or Gases
- Siting of HUD-Assisted Projects Near Hazardous Operations
- Airport Clear Zones and Airport Accident Potential Zones
- Environmental Assessment Processing
Upon completion of the NEPA assessment, if findings determine that the proposed project will impact one or more of the environmentally sensitive categories evaluated by the NEPA evaluation, an Environmental Assessment must be prepared by the licensee. An Environmental Assessment explains the environmental consequences of the proposed actions and provides sufficient information for federal agencies (FCC, HUD, etc.) to determine if the proposed actions will or will not have a significant impact on NEPA evaluated criteria.
Completion of the Environmental Assessment will include consultation with Native American tribal groups, SHPOs, THPOs, the USFWS, and other state and federal agencies as required per the project.