Air Force Department May 29, 2008 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Expansion of the Powder River Complex Near Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
Document Number: E8-11957
Type: Notice
Date: 2008-05-29
Agency: Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Air Force Department
Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), and Air Force policy and procedures (32 CFR Part 989), the Air Force is issuing this notice to advise the public of its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will assess the potential environmental consequences of a proposal to expand and enhance the Air Force's existing Powder River Complex (PRC) which currently has both airspace and ground-based Air Force training assets in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Air Force proposal would establish the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC). The PRTC would more effectively use limited resources and finite flying hours by providing locally the realistic training needed by B-1 and B-52 aircrews flying from Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) and Minot AFB, respectively. This would address the training and other limitations affecting the existing PRC training assets as they are currently configured. The proposed action would restructure and reconfigure the existing PRC Military Operations Areas (MOAs) and associated Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace (ATCAA), establish additional MOA/ATCAA combinations in portions of South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, and include Gap MOAs to link these airspace units together for anticipated quarterly exercises. The resulting PRTC would provide a versatile, scalable complex with more realistic, effective, and efficient air combat training. Under each action alternative, the proposal would add new airspace with a floor of 500 feet above ground level (AGL) and eliminate some existing airspace. The proposed PRTC would also support additional ground-based simulated threat emitters under the MOAs, authorize use of defensive chaff and flares throughout the special use airspace, and permit supersonic flight above 10,000 feet AGL (above ground level) within the special use airspace. Changes to the airspace would permit increased local training throughout the MOAs and ATCAAs and provide for almost a full range of required combat training missions which replicate the combat conditions faced by Ellsworth AFB and Minot AFB aircrews. The modular design of the airspace would provide for more viable combat training with today's technological systems, and support missions such as dissimilar air combat training, network linked operations, and large force exercises. Three action alternatives and a no-action alternative have currently been identified for analyses (per 40 CFR 1502.14(d)). Alternative A, Full PRTC, would establish low (MOAs) and high (ATCAA) airspace that would expand the area overflown at low altitude from the existing approximately 5,900 square miles to approximately 31,700 square miles. Under Alternative B the low-altitude MOA airspace would overfly approximately 22,800 square miles. Under Alternative C the low- altitude MOA airspace would overfly approximately 24,500 square miles. The proposed ATCAA airspace would overfly approximately 37,800 square miles under Alternatives A, B, or C. Under the no action alternative, the existing PRC would continue with low altitude MOAs overflying approximately 5,900 square miles and ATCAAs overflying approximately 14,100 square miles.