USA: Corps Releases Memo on Scope of MBTL Review
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a memorandum describing the agency’s scope of environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview (MBTL) project on the Columbia River in Washington State.
The Corps’ environmental review under NEPA will focus on the effects of activities that the Corps regulates under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, as well as any other activities outside of its regulatory jurisdiction over which the Corps has sufficient control and responsibility to justify including within the project’s federal environmental review.
For this Environmental Impact Statement, the Corps’ scope of analysis will include the entire MBTL project area and any offsite area that might be used for compensatory mitigation.
The project area consists of the approximately 190-acre lease area; the areas of the Columbia River that would be directly affected by overwater structures, dredging and dredged material disposal and any other area in or adjacent to the Columbia River that would be affected by and integral to the proposed project.
Potentially significant issues to be analyzed in the EIS include, but are not limited to direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the project-specific activities within the Corps’ scope on vessel traffic and navigational safety; aquatic habitats; aquatic species, including Endangered Species Act-listed species and Washington State species of concern; Tribal treaty rights; wetland and riparian habitat; wildlife; vehicle traffic; cultural, historic, and archeological resources; air and water quality; noise; recreation; land use; and aesthetics.
The federal EIS process began with publication of a Notice of Intent Aug. 14, 2013.
The scoping period for the EIS began Aug. 16 and closed Nov. 18.
The purpose of scoping is to assist in identifying pertinent issues, public concerns, and alternatives, and the depth to which they should be evaluated in an EIS.
All comments received during the scoping comment period will be considered during preparation of the draft EIS.
The next opportunity for public review and comment will be release of a draft EIS. Completion of a draft EIS is expected to take at least a year. Preparation of an EIS will support the Corps’ eventual decision to either issue, issue with conditions, or deny a permit for the proposed action.
The Corps is working in collaboration with the Cowlitz County Building and Planning Department and the Washington State Department of Ecology to prepare a separate federal EIS and state EIS in accordance with NEPA and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act respectively.
The Corps will consult with the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer and interested Tribes to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act; the National Marine Fisheries Service to comply with the Essential Fish Habitat provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and interested Tribes to comply with reserved treaty rights.
Press Release, February 19, 2014