February 2013 Project Update

Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and transition to the New Year.

2013 will bring several milestones for the Angoon Airport EIS project that I am very excited about. These include visits to the Angoon community, outreach to interested local, regional, and national organizations, and the submittal of the EIS to government agencies for their review. This is a big step toward providing the EIS to the public, and a big step toward finalizing the EIS.

The submittal of the EIS to these agencies will also start the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) Title XI process. The ANILCA page on the Angoon website provides a brief overview of this act, including key steps that would be required before placement of an airport in a wilderness area. As we have detailed in our December 2012 update, the FAA does not intend to identify a preferred alternative in the public draft EIS. Because of the complexities of this project, the FAA intends to solicit feedback from the public and agencies before making this identification. While all alternatives analyzed in the EIS will not require an ANILCA application, the FAA wants to ensure all alternatives receive the same level of analysis in the EIS. Therefore some of the ANILCA steps will occur at the same time as the NEPA process. Because there are strict timelines under ANILCA, these steps will influence the timing and release of the Draft and Final EIS for the Angoon Airport project. These steps include:

  1. Submittal of the ANILCA application to cooperating agencies. For the Angoon project, an ANILCA application will be submitted at the same time that the EIS is provided to the agencies for review and comment. This starts what I like to call the “ANILCA clock”.
  2. Application Review by the cooperating agencies. ANILCA provides for a 60 day review of the application and supporting documentation by the agencies. For the Angoon Airport project, the supporting documentation will be the EIS. During this 60 day review, the agencies will determine if the application is adequate or if more information is needed. Requests for additional information will “reset” the ANILCA clock.
  3. Release of the Public Draft EIS. Once the application is approved (including responding to agency comments on the EIS), the EIS will be released to the public. According to the "ANILCA clock", this must be done within 9 months of the application date (Step 1).
  4. Release of the Final EIS. Following the public review, comments will be addressed and the EIS will be finalized. Under ANILCA, a Final EIS must be completed within 12 months of this application date (Step 1), or an extension has to be requested.
  5. Record of Decision completed. The Record of Decision ends the NEPA process. If the FAA selects an alternative outside of the Wilderness, the ANILCA application would be withdrawn and the ANILCA process stops. If an alternative is selected within the Wilderness, the ANILCA process would continue, including approval of the project by the President of the United States and Congress.
We continue to receive questions about when the EIS will be complete. Please know that my team is working hard to ensure both a successful NEPA process and an ANILCA Title XI process. We look forward to taking large steps in both directions this year. If you have additional thoughts to share, please call me at (907) 271-5453 or e-mail me at Leslie.Grey@faa.gov. Thank you for your interest in the project!


Best regards,

Leslie Grey

     
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