Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed federal projects or federal actions, such as issuing a federal permit, which could significantly affect the environment and to consider reasonable alternatives to those actions.
For actions which will result in significant environmental impacts, federal agencies prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). EIS documents analyze a wide range of topics, such as water quality, wetlands, endangered species, transportation impacts, noise impacts, cultural resources and visual effects.
EPA reviews and publicly comments on EISs prepared for major federal projects and actions. Through this process, EPA works with federal agencies to minimize environmental impacts and to mitigate any adverse environmental impacts. All EPA comment letters issued under NEPA are available for review online.
In southern California, EPA has provided comments on many major federal actions, including port expansions, highway projects, a new port of entry, and watershed management plans.
For example, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are developing plans to significantly expand their capacity to move goods through their port facilities. EPA is currently reviewing and providing comments on several environmental impacts of these proposals. EPA will also serve as a cooperating agency for a forthcoming EIS to address environmental and community impacts of proposed highway improvements for 18 miles of Interstate 710, which accomodates significant truck traffic entering and exiting the ports area. EPA also participates in an interagency workgroup to address environmental impacts from a proposed new Otay Mesa East port of entry and State Route 11 at the San Diego County and Mexico border.
EPA also provides comment letters related to the development of special area management plans (SAMPs) for water resources and watersheds. The purpose of a SAMP is to develop and implement a watershed-wide water resource management plan to preserve, enhance and restore water resources while allowing reasonable and responsible economic development. EPA is currently providing early feedback on a SAMP for Western Riverside County and has provided comments on other SAMPs, such as the San Juan Creek and Western San Mateo Creek Watershed SAMP.
EPA's comments on proposed federal projects contribute to reduced impacts to the environment. For example, a proposal to improve Bautista Canyon Road, California Forest Highway 224, in Riverside County was determined not to be viable and removed from the Federal Lands Highway Program, on the basis of comments received on the Draft EIS, including comments from EPA, and further analysis. With the project not moving forward, the following impacts were avoided: 1) over 62, 000 square meters of additional impervious surface to the forest, (2) impacts to 6 federally endangered species and over 32 acres of impact to biological resources, (3) impacts to over 20 acres of botanical resources, (4) impacts to the Juan Baptista National Historical Trail, and (5) impacts to ethnobotanical resources of the Luiseno and Cahuilla.