What is NEPA?
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was enacted to address environmental quality concerns. NEPA requires a federal agency to analyze the impacts of a proposal and its alternatives and provides public participation opportunities. The main objectives of NEPA are:
- Ensuring that federal agencies consider and analyze the potential environmental effects of a proposed action before making a decision to implement;
- Informing the public of proposed federal activities with the potential to affect the human environment; and
- Encouraging and facilitating public participation in the process for deciding whether to implement an action.
What is a Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (LEIS)?
Decisions associated with military land withdrawals are made at the discretion of Congress; therefore, an LEIS is being prepared for this action. An LEIS is the detailed statement included in a recommendation or report that is part of the formal transmittal of a legislative proposal submitted to Congress. There is no Record of Decision for an LEIS; rather, Congress will make the decision and it will be written into law. An LEIS includes the following:
- Identification and description of the affected environment;
- Evaluation of the potential environmental impacts from a range of reasonable alternatives; and
- Identification of any environmental permits and mitigation measures required to avoid or minimize environmental impacts, if any.
What is a federal land withdrawal?
The Secretary of the Interior has authority for withdrawal of lands in federal ownership, which removes an area of federal land from settlement, sale, location, or entry for the purpose of limiting activities under those laws to maintain other public values in the area or reserving it for a particular public purpose or program.
Public lands may be withdrawn and reserved for military testing and training in support of national defense requirements. Military withdrawals and reservations that are 5,000 or more acres are authorized by Congressional action. Congressional withdrawals are legislative actions taken by Congress in the form of public laws; this is the type of withdrawal being evaluated for the Highway 95 Withdrawal.
What is the land withdrawal process?
The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for processing land withdrawal applications and will prepare a case file for the Department of the Interior for submission to Congress.
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 contains the rules and procedures implementing the Department of the Interior’s authority to process federal land withdrawal applications.
Included in the initial land withdrawal process are pre-application consultations; Federal Register publication of a notice of application; a public hearing; and preparation of a case file, which includes an LEIS and recommendations. The Army will provide input for the case file.
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