Notice of Public Hearings for the Virginia Capes Range Complex Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement, 36498-36500 [E8-14539]

Download as PDF 36498 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 125 / Friday, June 27, 2008 / Notices Atlantic Division; Attention: Code EV22CM (JAX EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd.; Norfolk, VA 23508– 1278. Facsimile: 757–322–4894. Federal, State, and local agencies and interested parties are invited to be present or represented at the public hearing. Written comments can also be submitted during the open house sessions preceding the public hearings. Oral statements will be heard and transcribed by a stenographer; however, to ensure the accuracy of the record, all statements should be submitted in writing. All statements, both oral and written, will become part of the public record on the Draft EIS/OEIS and will be responded to in the Final EIS/OEIS. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements. In the interest of available time, and to ensure all who wish to give an oral statement have the opportunity to do so, each speaker’s comments will be limited to three (3) minutes. If a long statement is to be presented, it should be summarized at the public hearing with the full text submitted either in writing at the hearing, or mailed or faxed to Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic Division; Attention: Code EV22CM (JAX EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd.; Norfolk, VA 23508– 1278. Facsimile: 757–322–4894. In addition, comments may be submitted on-line at http:// www.jacksonvillerangecomplexeis.com during the comment period. All written comments must be postmarked by August 11, 2008 to ensure they become part of the official record. All comments will be addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS. Dated: June 23, 2008. T.M. Cruz, Lieutenant, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. E8–14541 Filed 6–26–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810–FF–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy Notice of Public Hearings for the Virginia Capes Range Complex Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement Department of the Navy, DoD. Notice. AGENCY: jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES ACTION: SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] 4321); the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for implementing the VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:47 Jun 26, 2008 Jkt 214001 procedural provisions of NEPA (Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500–1508); Department of the Navy Procedures for Implementing NEPA (32 CFR 775); Executive Order (EO) 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions; and Department of Defense (DoD) regulations implementing EO 12114 (32 CFR 187) the Department of the Navy (Navy) has prepared and filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) on June 16, 2008. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is a Cooperating Agency for the EIS/OEIS. The EIS/OEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts over a 10-year planning horizon associated with Navy Atlantic Fleet training; research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities; and associated range capabilities enhancements (including infrastructure improvements) within the existing Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Range Complex Operating Area (OPAREA). The components of the VACAPES Range Complex include 28,672 square nautical miles (nm2) of special use area (SUA) warning area; 27,661 nm2 of offshore surface and subsurface OPAREA; and 18,092 nm2 of deep ocean area greater than 100 fathoms (600 feet). The geographic scope of the EIS/OEIS includes the airspace, seaspace, and undersea space of the VACAPES Range Complex. This area is referred to as the VACAPES Study Area. The VACAPES Study Area does not include any dry land. However, it does include the area from the mean high tide line east (seaward) to the 3nm boundary of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. This 3-nm state boundary also serves as the western boundary of the VACAPES OPAREA. The VACAPES Study Area also includes 420 nm2 of the lower Chesapeake Bay. A Notice of Intent (NOI) for the EIS/ OEIS was published in the Federal Register on December 8, 2006 (Federal Register Volume 71, No. 236, pp 71143– 71145). A revised NOI was issued in the Federal Register (Volume 72, No. 171, pp 50940–50941) on September 5, 2007 when training areas in the southern Chesapeake Bay were identified for analysis. The Navy will conduct four public hearings to receive oral and written comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS. Federal agencies, state agencies, and local agencies and interested individuals are invited to be present or represented at the public hearings. This notice announces the dates and PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 locations of the public hearings for this Draft EIS/OEIS. An open house session will precede the scheduled public hearing at each of the locations listed below and will allow individuals to review the information presented in the VACAPES Range Complex Draft EIS/OEIS. Navy representatives will be available during the open house sessions to clarify information related to the Draft EIS/ OEIS. DATES AND ADDRESSES: All meetings will start with an open house session from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A formal presentation and public comment period will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Public hearings will be held on the following dates and at the following locations: July 14, 2008 at the Princess Royale Oceanfront Hotel, 9100 Coastal Hwy., Ocean City, MD; July 15, 2008 at the Chincoteague Center, 6155 Community Dr., Chincoteague, VA; July 16, 2008 at the Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Ctr., 2800 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA; and July 17, 2008 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 N. Va. Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Attention, EV22ES (VACAPES EIS/OEIS PM), 6506 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk, Virginia 23508– 1278; facsimile: 757–322–4894 or http:// www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com. The Navy has identified the need to support and conduct current and emerging training and RDT&E operations in the VACAPES Range Complex. The proposed action does not indicate major changes to VACAPES Range Complex facilities, operations, training, or RDT&E capacities over the 10-year planning period. Rather, the proposed action would result in relatively small-scale but critical enhancements to the VACAPES Range Complex that are necessary if the Navy is to maintain a state of military readiness commensurate with its national defense mission. The EIS/OEIS addresses the training strategies described in the Fleet Readiness Training Plan (FRTP) that implement the Fleet Response Plan, which ensures continuous availability of agile, flexible, trained, and ready surge-capable (rapid response) forces. The recommended range enhancements that have the potential to impact the environment, as well as current and future training and testing operations that have the potential to impact the environment, are the primary focus of the EIS/OEIS. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\27JNN1.SGM 27JNN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 125 / Friday, June 27, 2008 / Notices The purpose for the proposed action is to: • Achieve and maintain Fleet readiness using the VACAPES Range Complex to support and conduct current, emerging, and future training operations and RDT&E operations; • Expand warfare missions supported by the VACAPES Range Complex; and • Upgrade and modernize existing range capabilities to enhance and sustain Navy training and RDT&E. The need for the proposed action is to provide range capabilities for training and equipping combat-capable naval forces ready to deploy worldwide. In this regard, the VACAPES Range Complex furthers the Navy’s execution of its congressionally mandated roles and responsibilities under Title 10 U.S.C. 5062. To implement this Congressional mandate, the Navy needs to: • Maintain current levels of military readiness by training in the VACAPES Range Complex; • Accommodate future increases in operational training tempo in the VACAPES Range Complex and support the rapid deployment of naval units or strike groups; • Achieve and sustain readiness of ships and squadrons so the Navy can quickly surge significant combat power in the event of a national crisis or contingency operation, and consistent with the FRTP; • Support the acquisition and implementation into the Fleet of advanced military technology. The VACAPES Range Complex must adequately support the testing and training needed for new platforms (aircraft and weapons systems); and • Maintain the long-term viability of the VACAPES Range Complex while protecting human health and the environment, and enhancing the quality and communication capability and safety of the range complex. Support to current, emerging, and future training and RDT&E operations, including implementation of range enhancements, entails the actions evaluated in the EIS/OEIS. These potentially include: • Increase use of contractor-operated small aircraft that simulate enemy aircraft during training (Commercial Air Services Support for Fleet Opposition Forces and Electronic Warfare Threat Training); • Increase anti-piracy and maritime interdiction training (Anti-terrorism Surface Strike Group Training); • Support MH–60R/S helicopter warfare mission areas, and MultiMission Maritime Aircraft training operations; and VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:47 Jun 26, 2008 Jkt 214001 • Conduct mine warfare training using a temporary mine training area. The proposed action is to support and conduct current and emerging training and RDT&E operations in the VACAPES Range Complex. To achieve this, the Navy proposes to: • Maintain training and RDT&E operations at current levels if the No Action Alternative is selected. If either Alternative 1 or Alternative 2 is selected, then: • Increase or modify training and RDT&E operations from current levels as necessary in support of the FRTP. • Accommodate mission requirements associated with force structure changes, including those resulting from the introduction of new platforms (aircraft, and weapons systems). • Implement enhanced range complex capabilities. The decision to be made by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations & Environment) is to determine which alternative analyzed in the EIS/OEIS satisfies both the level and mix of training to be conducted and the range capabilities enhancements to be made within the VACAPES Range Complex that best meet the needs of the Navy given that all reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts have been considered. Three alternatives were evaluated in the EIS/OEIS to ensure they met the purpose and need, giving due consideration to range complex attributes such as: the capability to support current and emerging Fleet tactical training and RDT&E requirements; the capability to support realistic, essential training at the level and frequency sufficient to support the FRTP; and the capability to support training requirements while following Navy Personnel Tempo of Operations guidelines. These alternatives include: 1. The No Action Alternative— Current Operations to include surge consistent with the FRTP; 2. Alternative 1—No Action Alternative plus: increase Operational Training, Expand Warfare Missions, Accommodate Force Structure Changes (includes changing weapon systems and platforms and homebasing new aircraft and ships), and implement enhancements, to the minimal extent possible to meet the components of the proposed action. This alternative is composed of all operations currently conducted (No Action Alternative) with modifications to current training or introduction of new training. These would include: (a) Using more commercial aircraft to serve as oppositional forces rather than using PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36499 Navy aircraft for Air-to-Air Missile Exercise, Surface-to-Air Gunnery Exercises, Air Intercept Control Exercises, and Detect-to-Engage Exercises; (b) the incorporation of antiterrorism training into existing training events; (c) adjusting training levels to ensure that deployment can be stepped up quickly and at multiple locations in response to world events; and (d) conducting new or modified training associated with the introduction of the new MH–60 helicopter, and new organic mine countermeasure systems; and 3. Alternative 2 (Preferred Alternative)—Alternative 1 plus: enhanced mine warfare training capabilities, a reduction of live bombing exercises, and implementation of additional enhancements to enable the range complex to meet future requirements. Three alternatives were considered but eliminated from further consideration. These include: 1. Alternative Range Complex Locations—No single range complex on the East Coast can accommodate the entire spectrum of Navy and Marine Corps training and testing. To maintain a high level of combat readiness for naval forces at best value to the U.S. taxpayer, the Navy and Marine Corps homeported their forces in multiple concentration areas rather than a single area, in part to ensure the surrounding training and testing areas could support their specific needs. The result is a system of range complexes, each optimized to support the limited set of warfare areas that predominate in that locale. The VACAPES Range Complex possesses a number of historical and natural features that make it an indispensable component of the Navy’s East Coast system of ranges. The VACAPES Range Complex is a vital component of the Atlantic Fleet system of range complexes, necessary and critical to ensure that naval forces are prepared and certified ready for overseas deployment and combat operations. Other locations do not provide reasonable alternatives for required training purposes/activities described above, and as a result, alternative training locations were eliminated from further consideration. 2. Conduct Simulated Training Only—Under this alternative, only simulated training would be conducted using computer models and classroom training. While computer simulation and classroom training are currently used by the Navy and effective training tools, they cannot exclusively replace live training because they do not replicate the atmosphere or experience E:\FR\FM\27JNN1.SGM 27JNN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 36500 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 125 / Friday, June 27, 2008 / Notices that live training provides. Simulation cannot replicate the environment that is provided during coordinated training and major exercises, where multiple ships, submarines and aircraft, and hundreds or thousands of men and women are participating in training activities in a coordinated fashion to accomplish a common military objective. Because of the need to train as we fight, this alternative would fail to meet the purpose and need of the proposed action in that it would not sufficiently prepare our naval forces for combat. Therefore, this alternative is not evaluated in the EIS/OEIS. 3. Practice Ammunition Use—An alternative that would rely entirely on inert, practice ammunition use within the VACAPES Range Complex would not achieve the necessary levels of proficiency in firing weapons in a high stress and realistic environment. Inert, practice ammunition is utilized throughout the VACAPES Range Complex, and provides opportunity to implement a successful, integrated training program while reducing the risk and expense typically associated with live ammunition. As such, practice ammunition is already utilized extensively to enhance combat performance in the Navy’s training program. However, while it is an essential component of training, practice ammunition cannot be used exclusively to train safely in an inherently unsafe combat environment. Consequently, this alternative fails to meet the purpose and need of the proposed action. Therefore, this alternative was not carried forward for analysis. Nineteen resources and issues were described and analyzed in the EIS/OEIS. These include but are not limited to water resources, air quality, marine communities, marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and essential fish habitat, seabirds and migratory birds, cultural resources, regional economy, and public health and safety. The Navy used subject matter experts, public and agency scoping comments, previous environmental analyses, previous agency consultations, laws, regulations, Executive Orders and resource-specific information in a screening process to identify aspects of the proposed action that could act as stressors to resources and issues evaluated in the EIS/OEIS. The stressors considered for analysis of environmental consequences include but are not limited to vessel movements (disturbance and collisions), aircraft overflights (disturbance and strikes), non-explosive practice munitions, and underwater detonations and high explosive ordnance. VerDate Aug<31>2005 18:47 Jun 26, 2008 Jkt 214001 In accordance with 50 CFR 401.12 the Navy submitted a Biological Evaluation to assess the potential effects from the proposed action on marine resources and anadromous fish protected by the NMFS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371[a][5]), the Navy submitted a request for Letter of Authorization to the NMFS for the incidental taking of marine mammals by the proposed action which was acknowledged by NMFS in a Notice of Receipt published in the Federal Register (Vol. 73, No. 72, pp 20032– 20034) on April 14, 2008. The Navy submitted a Consultation Package in accordance with legal requirements set forth under regulations implementing Section 7 of the ESA (50 CFR 402; 16 U.S.C 1536 (c)) for listed species under jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The analysis of environmental stressors indicated that implementation of the No Action Alternative, Alternative 1, or Alternative 2 would not result in unavoidable significant adverse effects to resources and issues analyzed. The analysis of environmental stressors and alternatives indicated no significant impact to resources and issues in U.S. territorial waters; likewise, no significant harm in nonterritorial waters would be expected. The VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS was distributed to Federal, State, and local agencies, elected officials, and other interested individuals and organizations on June 27, 2008. The public comment period will end on August 11, 2008. Copies of the VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS are available for public review at the following libraries: Ocean City Branch Library, 10003 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD; Rehoboth Beach Public Library, 226 Rehoboth Avenue Rehoboth Beach, DE; Wicomico Public Library, 122 South Division Street, Salisbury, MD; Island Library, 4077 Main Street, Chincoteague, VA; Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA; and Kill Devil Hills Branch Library, 400 S. Mustian St, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS is also available for electronic public viewing at http:// www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com. A paper copy of the Executive Summary or a single CD with the VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS will be made available upon written request by contacting Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic Division; Attention: Code EV22ES (VACAPES EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd; Norfolk, VA 23508– 1278; facsimile: 757–322–4894. Federal, PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 State, and local agencies and interested parties are invited to be present or represented at the public hearing. Written comments can also be submitted during the open house sessions preceding the public hearings. Oral statements will be heard and transcribed by a stenographer; however, to ensure the accuracy of the record, all statements should be submitted in writing. All statements, both oral and written, will become part of the public record on the Draft EIS/OEIS and will be responded to in the Final EIS/OEIS. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements. In the interest of available time, and to ensure all who wish to give an oral statement have the opportunity to do so, each speaker’s comments will be limited to three (3) minutes. If a long statement is to be presented, it should be summarized at the public hearing with the full text submitted either in writing at the hearing, or mailed or faxed to Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic Division; Attention: Code EV22ES (VACAPES EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd; Norfolk, VA 23508– 1278; facsimile: 757–322–4894. In addition, comments may be submitted on-line at http:// www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com during the comment period. All written comments must be postmarked by August 11, 2008 to ensure they become part of the official record. All comments will be addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS. Dated: June 18, 2008. T.M. Cruz, Lieutenant, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. E8–14539 Filed 6–26–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810–FF–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Bonneville Power Administration Willow Creek Wind Project Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Department of Energy (DOE). ACTION: Notice of Availability of Record of Decision (ROD). AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has decided to offer contract terms for the electrical interconnection into the Federal Columbia River Transmission System (FCRTS) of up to 72 megawatts of power to be generated by the proposed Willow Creek Wind Project (Wind Project). Willow Creek Energy, LLC proposes to construct and operate the proposed Wind Project in Gilliam and Morrow E:\FR\FM\27JNN1.SGM 27JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 125 (Friday, June 27, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36498-36500]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-14539]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Navy


Notice of Public Hearings for the Virginia Capes Range Complex 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact 
Statement

AGENCY: Department of the Navy, DoD.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] 4321); the 
Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for implementing the 
procedural provisions of NEPA (Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations 
[CFR] 1500-1508); Department of the Navy Procedures for Implementing 
NEPA (32 CFR 775); Executive Order (EO) 12114, Environmental Effects 
Abroad of Major Federal Actions; and Department of Defense (DoD) 
regulations implementing EO 12114 (32 CFR 187) the Department of the 
Navy (Navy) has prepared and filed with the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) on June 16, 2008. The 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is a Cooperating Agency for 
the EIS/OEIS.
    The EIS/OEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts over a 
10-year planning horizon associated with Navy Atlantic Fleet training; 
research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities; and 
associated range capabilities enhancements (including infrastructure 
improvements) within the existing Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Range 
Complex Operating Area (OPAREA). The components of the VACAPES Range 
Complex include 28,672 square nautical miles (nm\2\) of special use 
area (SUA) warning area; 27,661 nm\2\ of offshore surface and 
subsurface OPAREA; and 18,092 nm\2\ of deep ocean area greater than 100 
fathoms (600 feet).
    The geographic scope of the EIS/OEIS includes the airspace, 
seaspace, and undersea space of the VACAPES Range Complex. This area is 
referred to as the VACAPES Study Area. The VACAPES Study Area does not 
include any dry land. However, it does include the area from the mean 
high tide line east (seaward) to the 3nm boundary of the states of 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. This 3-nm state 
boundary also serves as the western boundary of the VACAPES OPAREA. The 
VACAPES Study Area also includes 420 nm\2\ of the lower Chesapeake Bay. 
A Notice of Intent (NOI) for the EIS/OEIS was published in the Federal 
Register on December 8, 2006 (Federal Register Volume 71, No. 236, pp 
71143-71145). A revised NOI was issued in the Federal Register (Volume 
72, No. 171, pp 50940-50941) on September 5, 2007 when training areas 
in the southern Chesapeake Bay were identified for analysis.
    The Navy will conduct four public hearings to receive oral and 
written comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS. Federal agencies, state 
agencies, and local agencies and interested individuals are invited to 
be present or represented at the public hearings. This notice announces 
the dates and locations of the public hearings for this Draft EIS/OEIS.
    An open house session will precede the scheduled public hearing at 
each of the locations listed below and will allow individuals to review 
the information presented in the VACAPES Range Complex Draft EIS/OEIS. 
Navy representatives will be available during the open house sessions 
to clarify information related to the Draft EIS/OEIS.

Dates and Addresses: All meetings will start with an open house session 
from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A formal presentation and public comment period 
will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Public hearings will be held on the 
following dates and at the following locations: July 14, 2008 at the 
Princess Royale Oceanfront Hotel, 9100 Coastal Hwy., Ocean City, MD; 
July 15, 2008 at the Chincoteague Center, 6155 Community Dr., 
Chincoteague, VA; July 16, 2008 at the Virginia Beach Resort & 
Conference Ctr., 2800 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA; and July 17, 2008 
at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5353 N. Va. Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Naval Facilities Engineering Command, 
Atlantic, Attention, EV22ES (VACAPES EIS/OEIS PM), 6506 Hampton 
Boulevard, Norfolk, Virginia 23508-1278; facsimile: 757-322-4894 or 
http://www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Navy has identified the need to support 
and conduct current and emerging training and RDT&E operations in the 
VACAPES Range Complex. The proposed action does not indicate major 
changes to VACAPES Range Complex facilities, operations, training, or 
RDT&E capacities over the 10-year planning period. Rather, the proposed 
action would result in relatively small-scale but critical enhancements 
to the VACAPES Range Complex that are necessary if the Navy is to 
maintain a state of military readiness commensurate with its national 
defense mission.
    The EIS/OEIS addresses the training strategies described in the 
Fleet Readiness Training Plan (FRTP) that implement the Fleet Response 
Plan, which ensures continuous availability of agile, flexible, 
trained, and ready surge-capable (rapid response) forces. The 
recommended range enhancements that have the potential to impact the 
environment, as well as current and future training and testing 
operations that have the potential to impact the environment, are the 
primary focus of the EIS/OEIS.

[[Page 36499]]

    The purpose for the proposed action is to:
     Achieve and maintain Fleet readiness using the VACAPES 
Range Complex to support and conduct current, emerging, and future 
training operations and RDT&E operations;
     Expand warfare missions supported by the VACAPES Range 
Complex; and
     Upgrade and modernize existing range capabilities to 
enhance and sustain Navy training and RDT&E.
    The need for the proposed action is to provide range capabilities 
for training and equipping combat-capable naval forces ready to deploy 
worldwide. In this regard, the VACAPES Range Complex furthers the 
Navy's execution of its congressionally mandated roles and 
responsibilities under Title 10 U.S.C. 5062. To implement this 
Congressional mandate, the Navy needs to:
     Maintain current levels of military readiness by training 
in the VACAPES Range Complex;
     Accommodate future increases in operational training tempo 
in the VACAPES Range Complex and support the rapid deployment of naval 
units or strike groups;
     Achieve and sustain readiness of ships and squadrons so 
the Navy can quickly surge significant combat power in the event of a 
national crisis or contingency operation, and consistent with the FRTP;
     Support the acquisition and implementation into the Fleet 
of advanced military technology. The VACAPES Range Complex must 
adequately support the testing and training needed for new platforms 
(aircraft and weapons systems); and
     Maintain the long-term viability of the VACAPES Range 
Complex while protecting human health and the environment, and 
enhancing the quality and communication capability and safety of the 
range complex.
    Support to current, emerging, and future training and RDT&E 
operations, including implementation of range enhancements, entails the 
actions evaluated in the EIS/OEIS. These potentially include:
     Increase use of contractor-operated small aircraft that 
simulate enemy aircraft during training (Commercial Air Services 
Support for Fleet Opposition Forces and Electronic Warfare Threat 
Training);
     Increase anti-piracy and maritime interdiction training 
(Anti-terrorism Surface Strike Group Training);
     Support MH-60R/S helicopter warfare mission areas, and 
Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft training operations; and
     Conduct mine warfare training using a temporary mine 
training area.
    The proposed action is to support and conduct current and emerging 
training and RDT&E operations in the VACAPES Range Complex. To achieve 
this, the Navy proposes to:
     Maintain training and RDT&E operations at current levels 
if the No Action Alternative is selected.
    If either Alternative 1 or Alternative 2 is selected, then:
     Increase or modify training and RDT&E operations from 
current levels as necessary in support of the FRTP.
     Accommodate mission requirements associated with force 
structure changes, including those resulting from the introduction of 
new platforms (aircraft, and weapons systems).
     Implement enhanced range complex capabilities.
    The decision to be made by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy 
(Installations & Environment) is to determine which alternative 
analyzed in the EIS/OEIS satisfies both the level and mix of training 
to be conducted and the range capabilities enhancements to be made 
within the VACAPES Range Complex that best meet the needs of the Navy 
given that all reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts have been 
considered.
    Three alternatives were evaluated in the EIS/OEIS to ensure they 
met the purpose and need, giving due consideration to range complex 
attributes such as: the capability to support current and emerging 
Fleet tactical training and RDT&E requirements; the capability to 
support realistic, essential training at the level and frequency 
sufficient to support the FRTP; and the capability to support training 
requirements while following Navy Personnel Tempo of Operations 
guidelines. These alternatives include:
    1. The No Action Alternative--Current Operations to include surge 
consistent with the FRTP;
    2. Alternative 1--No Action Alternative plus: increase Operational 
Training, Expand Warfare Missions, Accommodate Force Structure Changes 
(includes changing weapon systems and platforms and homebasing new 
aircraft and ships), and implement enhancements, to the minimal extent 
possible to meet the components of the proposed action. This 
alternative is composed of all operations currently conducted (No 
Action Alternative) with modifications to current training or 
introduction of new training. These would include: (a) Using more 
commercial aircraft to serve as oppositional forces rather than using 
Navy aircraft for Air-to-Air Missile Exercise, Surface-to-Air Gunnery 
Exercises, Air Intercept Control Exercises, and Detect-to-Engage 
Exercises; (b) the incorporation of anti-terrorism training into 
existing training events; (c) adjusting training levels to ensure that 
deployment can be stepped up quickly and at multiple locations in 
response to world events; and (d) conducting new or modified training 
associated with the introduction of the new MH-60 helicopter, and new 
organic mine countermeasure systems; and
    3. Alternative 2 (Preferred Alternative)--Alternative 1 plus: 
enhanced mine warfare training capabilities, a reduction of live 
bombing exercises, and implementation of additional enhancements to 
enable the range complex to meet future requirements.
    Three alternatives were considered but eliminated from further 
consideration. These include:
    1. Alternative Range Complex Locations--No single range complex on 
the East Coast can accommodate the entire spectrum of Navy and Marine 
Corps training and testing. To maintain a high level of combat 
readiness for naval forces at best value to the U.S. taxpayer, the Navy 
and Marine Corps homeported their forces in multiple concentration 
areas rather than a single area, in part to ensure the surrounding 
training and testing areas could support their specific needs. The 
result is a system of range complexes, each optimized to support the 
limited set of warfare areas that predominate in that locale. The 
VACAPES Range Complex possesses a number of historical and natural 
features that make it an indispensable component of the Navy's East 
Coast system of ranges. The VACAPES Range Complex is a vital component 
of the Atlantic Fleet system of range complexes, necessary and critical 
to ensure that naval forces are prepared and certified ready for 
overseas deployment and combat operations. Other locations do not 
provide reasonable alternatives for required training purposes/
activities described above, and as a result, alternative training 
locations were eliminated from further consideration.
    2. Conduct Simulated Training Only--Under this alternative, only 
simulated training would be conducted using computer models and 
classroom training. While computer simulation and classroom training 
are currently used by the Navy and effective training tools, they 
cannot exclusively replace live training because they do not replicate 
the atmosphere or experience

[[Page 36500]]

that live training provides. Simulation cannot replicate the 
environment that is provided during coordinated training and major 
exercises, where multiple ships, submarines and aircraft, and hundreds 
or thousands of men and women are participating in training activities 
in a coordinated fashion to accomplish a common military objective. 
Because of the need to train as we fight, this alternative would fail 
to meet the purpose and need of the proposed action in that it would 
not sufficiently prepare our naval forces for combat. Therefore, this 
alternative is not evaluated in the EIS/OEIS.
    3. Practice Ammunition Use--An alternative that would rely entirely 
on inert, practice ammunition use within the VACAPES Range Complex 
would not achieve the necessary levels of proficiency in firing weapons 
in a high stress and realistic environment. Inert, practice ammunition 
is utilized throughout the VACAPES Range Complex, and provides 
opportunity to implement a successful, integrated training program 
while reducing the risk and expense typically associated with live 
ammunition. As such, practice ammunition is already utilized 
extensively to enhance combat performance in the Navy's training 
program. However, while it is an essential component of training, 
practice ammunition cannot be used exclusively to train safely in an 
inherently unsafe combat environment. Consequently, this alternative 
fails to meet the purpose and need of the proposed action. Therefore, 
this alternative was not carried forward for analysis.
    Nineteen resources and issues were described and analyzed in the 
EIS/OEIS. These include but are not limited to water resources, air 
quality, marine communities, marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and 
essential fish habitat, seabirds and migratory birds, cultural 
resources, regional economy, and public health and safety. The Navy 
used subject matter experts, public and agency scoping comments, 
previous environmental analyses, previous agency consultations, laws, 
regulations, Executive Orders and resource-specific information in a 
screening process to identify aspects of the proposed action that could 
act as stressors to resources and issues evaluated in the EIS/OEIS.
    The stressors considered for analysis of environmental consequences 
include but are not limited to vessel movements (disturbance and 
collisions), aircraft overflights (disturbance and strikes), non-
explosive practice munitions, and underwater detonations and high 
explosive ordnance.
    In accordance with 50 CFR 401.12 the Navy submitted a Biological 
Evaluation to assess the potential effects from the proposed action on 
marine resources and anadromous fish protected by the NMFS under the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA). In accordance with the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371[a][5]), the Navy submitted a 
request for Letter of Authorization to the NMFS for the incidental 
taking of marine mammals by the proposed action which was acknowledged 
by NMFS in a Notice of Receipt published in the Federal Register (Vol. 
73, No. 72, pp 20032-20034) on April 14, 2008.
    The Navy submitted a Consultation Package in accordance with legal 
requirements set forth under regulations implementing Section 7 of the 
ESA (50 CFR 402; 16 U.S.C 1536 (c)) for listed species under 
jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The analysis of 
environmental stressors indicated that implementation of the No Action 
Alternative, Alternative 1, or Alternative 2 would not result in 
unavoidable significant adverse effects to resources and issues 
analyzed.
    The analysis of environmental stressors and alternatives indicated 
no significant impact to resources and issues in U.S. territorial 
waters; likewise, no significant harm in non-territorial waters would 
be expected. The VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS was distributed to Federal, 
State, and local agencies, elected officials, and other interested 
individuals and organizations on June 27, 2008. The public comment 
period will end on August 11, 2008. Copies of the VACAPES Draft EIS/
OEIS are available for public review at the following libraries: Ocean 
City Branch Library, 10003 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD; Rehoboth 
Beach Public Library, 226 Rehoboth Avenue Rehoboth Beach, DE; Wicomico 
Public Library, 122 South Division Street, Salisbury, MD; Island 
Library, 4077 Main Street, Chincoteague, VA; Central Library, 4100 
Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA; and Kill Devil Hills Branch 
Library, 400 S. Mustian St, Kill Devil Hills, NC.
    The VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS is also available for electronic public 
viewing at http://www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com. A paper copy of the 
Executive Summary or a single CD with the VACAPES Draft EIS/OEIS will 
be made available upon written request by contacting Naval Facilities 
Engineering Command, Atlantic Division; Attention: Code EV22ES (VACAPES 
EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd; Norfolk, VA 23508-1278; facsimile: 
757-322-4894. Federal, State, and local agencies and interested parties 
are invited to be present or represented at the public hearing. Written 
comments can also be submitted during the open house sessions preceding 
the public hearings. Oral statements will be heard and transcribed by a 
stenographer; however, to ensure the accuracy of the record, all 
statements should be submitted in writing. All statements, both oral 
and written, will become part of the public record on the Draft EIS/
OEIS and will be responded to in the Final EIS/OEIS. Equal weight will 
be given to both oral and written statements.
    In the interest of available time, and to ensure all who wish to 
give an oral statement have the opportunity to do so, each speaker's 
comments will be limited to three (3) minutes. If a long statement is 
to be presented, it should be summarized at the public hearing with the 
full text submitted either in writing at the hearing, or mailed or 
faxed to Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic Division; 
Attention: Code EV22ES (VACAPES EIS/OEIS PM); 6506 Hampton Blvd; 
Norfolk, VA 23508-1278; facsimile: 757-322-4894. In addition, comments 
may be submitted on-line at http://www.vacapesrangecomplexeis.com 
during the comment period. All written comments must be postmarked by 
August 11, 2008 to ensure they become part of the official record. All 
comments will be addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS.

    Dated: June 18, 2008.
T.M. Cruz,
Lieutenant, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register 
Liaison Officer.
 [FR Doc. E8-14539 Filed 6-26-08; 8:45 am]
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