What is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
NEPA is a federal statute that requires federal agencies to evaluate the potential environmental effects of a proposed project, and inform and involve the public before making decisions. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the lead federal agency responsible for compliance with the requirements of NEPA.
What is an Environmental Assessment (EA)?
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) states that an EA is a “concise document” that takes a “hard look” at expected environmental effects of a proposed action. An EA defines the purpose and need for a project, considers a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential impacts of a proposed project and its alternatives, and demonstrates compliance with other Executive Orders and environmental statutes. The EA will analyze and document potential environmental effects from the Proposed Action and alternatives and develop measures that may mitigate those effects.
What is the Proposed Action?
The Airport Sponsor, the City of Charlotte, has plans to implement airport improvements at CLT. The Proposed Action is made up of two primary Project Elements proposed for construction by 2028:
- Fourth Parallel Runway 1-19 (including End-Around Taxiways)
- Terminal and Ramp Expansion
Why is the Proposed Action needed?
CLT is the sixth busiest airport in the United States. The FAA forecasts that the number of flights at CLT will grow at an average rate of almost 1.85 percent annually, from more than 545,000 flights in 2016 to 745,000 flights in 2033 and from 21.7 million enplanements to 31.5 million enplanements during the same timeframe. Current airfield, terminal, aircraft gate area, and vehicle parking facilities at CLT have limitations that makes it challenging for the airport which serves as a major airline hub. These limitations result in excessive congestion and delays. Improvement of these areas is proposed to address increasing congestion and delays.
What are the roles of the FAA and the Airport Sponsor in preparing the EA?
The FAA is the lead federal agency for the EA. The FAA is responsible for complying with NEPA and other environmental laws, regulations, and orders. The FAA will make its own independent evaluation of the environmental issues and take responsibility for the scope and content of the EA. The FAA also will make a final decision on whether it can issue a satisfactory environmental finding based upon the EA. The FAA will thereafter determine whether it may take the federal actions necessary to allow implementation of the project.
The City of Charlotte is the Airport Sponsor and will lead the preparation of the EA. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 requires the Airport Sponsor to obtain FAA approval to construct the Proposed Action at the Airport.