Adoption of Alternative Arrangements Under the National Environmental Policy Act for New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction System
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mississippi Valley Division, New Orleans District (CEMVN) is implementing Alternative Arrangements under the provisions of the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.11) in order to expeditiously complete environmental analysis of major portions of a new 100-year level of Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction effort authorized and funded by the Administration and the Congress. The proposed actions are located primarily in southern Louisiana and relate to the Federal effort to rebuild the Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction system following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The USACE consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), as required under 40 CFR 1506.11 and the USACE Environmental Quality Procedures for Implementing the NEPA (33 CFR 230), concluded on February 23, 2007 with the CEQ approving the Alternative Arrangements. The Alternative Arrangements request was also coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Officer. During the consultation, the USACE and CEQ hosted four public meetings in New Orleans metropolitan area to assess the request and gather input on the proposed Alternative Arrangements. The input received during the course of the discussions and meetings provided strong support for Alternative Arrangements that allow for expedited decisions on actions to lower the risk of floods and that restore public confidence in the hurricane storm reduction system so that the physical and economic recovery of the area can proceed as citizens return and rebuild. It was also made clear that the Alternative Arrangements should provide the USACE a way to proceed that complements other ongoing and proposed hurricane protection and coastal restoration efforts. These Alternative Arrangements apply to certain proposed actions included in the 100-year Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction measures authorized under Public Law 109-234, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (4th Supplemental). The Alternative Arrangements will allow decisions on smaller groups of proposed actions to move forward sooner than under the traditional NEPA process. An in-depth analysis and consideration of potential environmental impacts will be completed and negative environmental impacts will be addressed. Detailed information on the Alternative Arrangements can be downloaded from the USACE New Orleans District Web site at: http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/ pd/EnvirProcessesNEPA/Index.htm.