NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA)/ ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT (EA) PROCESS

Photo courtesy of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Environmental Assessment (EA) Process:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a Federal statute that requires federal agencies to use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach for considering the potential environmental impacts of a Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project and factoring them into the decision-making process. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for implementing NEPA set the standards for NEPA compliance and direct federal agencies to develop their own procedures. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order 1050.1F provides the FAA’s agency-wide policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with NEPA and the CEQ Regulations.

The FAA, as the lead federal agency, initially considered preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project which originally included relocating and extending Runway 5L/23R, expanding Terminals 1 and 2, expanding the Federal Inspection Station (FIS), expanding the cargo apron, extending Runway 5R/23L from 7,500’ to 9,000’, replacing Taxiway Charlie with a high-speed exit taxiway, constructing a Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC), and two expansion phases of Park Economy 3 (PE3). Since that time, various project elements of the original Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project have been eliminated due to the industry and economic consequences of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the applicability of Section 163 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, and the FAA’s determination that certain projects were independent of the Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project and could be evaluated under a separate NEPA document.

Currently, the Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project consists only of replacing Runway 5L/23R with one of the same length and enabling actions such as road relocations and taxiway development. Based on these developments, the FAA agreed to first conduct an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine whether an EIS is necessary, rather than proceed with an EIS from the outset. The FAA conditioned proceeding with an EA as long as: the Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project does not include construction activities near the William B. Umstead State Park; the FAA has discretion to determine the appropriate level of public outreach; and the FAA remains actively involved throughout the development of the EA. Therefore, the FAA will assist and provide oversite in the development of the EA and will assist the Airport Sponsor in determining the appropriate level of public outreach for the EA.

The preparation of this EA will be used to comply with other applicable environmental laws and regulations as identified through the environmental analysis. More specific public notice of the environmental laws, regulations, and Executive Orders being satisfied through the EA will be presented as the environmental consequences of the Proposed Runway 5L/23R Replacement Project and its alternatives are better understood.

NEPA/EA STEPS

Environmental Impact Statement Process – Click to enlarge

As outlined in FAA Order 1050.1F, the EA will consider impacts to the following resources:

  • Air quality
  • Biological resources (including fish, wildlife, and plants)
  • Climate
  • Resources protected under the Department of Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. §303(c) (known as Section 4(f) “resources”)
  • Farmlands
  • Ground Transportation
  • Hazardous materials, solid waste, and pollution prevention
  • Historical, architectural, archeological, and cultural resources
  • Land use
  • Natural resources and energy supply
  • Noise and noise-compatible land use
  • Socioeconomics, environmental justice, and children’s environmental health and safety risks
  • Visual effects (including light emissions)
  • Water resources (including wetlands, floodplains, surface waters, groundwater, and Wild and Scenic rivers)