Revised Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for the Undersea Warfare Training Range and Notice of Request for Public Scoping Comments
This notice is issued to advise the public that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) for the Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) will be revised, and to invite the public to provide comments for consideration during preparation of the revised EIS/OEIS. In compliance with Section (102)(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), and Executive Order 12114, the Department of Navy (Navy) announced the preparation of an EIS for the then ``East Coast Shallow Water Training Range EIS/OEIS'' on May 13, 1996 (FR 22028) and invited the public to comment on the scope of the EIS/OEIS. Subsequently, a Draft EIS/OEIS was released on October 28, 2005 (FR 62107) to evaluate the potential environmental consequences associated with constructing and operating an Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR). In response to comments received from federal agencies, state agencies, and members of the public, Navy determined that the DEIS should be revised and a new DEIS issued, incorporating suggestions received during the public review and comment period. The changes contemplated involve the addition of an alternative and a modification of the methodology used to analyze impacts on marine mammals. Given the nature of these changes, the Navy has decided to reopen the scoping process and invites the public to submit any comments relevant to the scope of issues to be addressed in the revised EIS/OEIS. Scoping comments previously submitted following publication of the 1996 NOI are still valid and will be considered. All comments received during the Oct 2005 DEIS public review and comment period will be considered during the course of this scoping process and need not be resubmitted. The proposed action is to instrument an approximate 500-square- nautical-mile area of the ocean with undersea cables and sensor nodes, creating a USWTR, and to use the USWTR for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training. The purpose of the proposed action is to enable the Navy to train effectively in an ocean environment encompassing required water depths (e.g., 120 to 900 feet depth) at a suitable location for Navy Atlantic Fleet units. Training typically would involve an individual unit or up to three vessels and two aircraft using the range at any one time. The Navy anticipates analyzing four alternative sites. The candidate sites are located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 30 to 50 nautical miles offshore, within existing Navy Operating Areas (OPAREAs). The three candidate sites previously identified as alternatives would continue to be considered: Offshore of northeastern Virginia, offshore of southeastern North Carolina, and offshore of northeastern Florida. A site offshore of central South Carolina will be added as a fourth alternative.