PSIC Grant Program Compliance with NEPA
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to evaluate the environmental impacts of their actions and programs. Therefore, all PSIC projects are subject to NEPA, and must undergo environmental and historic preservation reviews by NTIA before project funding may be used. The materials posted on this website explain NTIA's NEPA process for the PSIC Grant Program, and how grantees can support environmental reviews of PSIC projects.
In addition to NEPA, other Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental laws and regulations often apply to PSIC projects. NTIA can assist grantees with guidance and advice for complying with other laws and regulations affecting their PSIC projects; however, grantees are responsible for ensuring compliance and receiving required NTIA and other applicable authorizations before implementing their projects.
PSIC Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA)
Unlike some Federal agencies, NTIA does not have NEPA implementing regulations or "categorical exclusions" (CATEX) that would potentially apply to PSIC projects. The foundation of NTIA's NEPA compliance for the PSIC Grant Program is the PSIC Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) published in February 2009. The PEA evaluated three programmatic alternatives, and found that three types of PSIC project groups — (1) transmitting and receiving sites, (2) operations and response centers, and (3) field-based exercises for planning, training, and exercises — present the potential for environmental impacts at the site-specific level and could require the development of a site-specific Environmental Assessment (EA). Correspondingly, the PEA found that acquisition of mobile infrastructure, acquisition of mobile and portable equipment, planning activities, and classroom-based training are unlikely to result in any environmental impacts and should not require an EA for most projects.
PSIC Final Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
The PSIC Final Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) identified the types of projects that were likely to not have significant impact to the human or natural environment. The document also includes NTIA's determination that site-specific EAs are required for PSIC projects involving:
- Transmission and receiving site projects involving new communications structures 200 or more feet above the ground, structures supported by guy wires, or ground disturbance of 1 acre or more;
- Upgrades and retrofits of existing operations and response centers and construction of new centers involving 1 acre or more of ground disturbing activity;
- Field exercises to be conducted at previously undisturbed sites that would involve ground disturbance of 1 acre or more; or
- Any project involving unusual risks or impacts to sensitive areas.
Correspondingly, the FONSI documents that PSIC projects involving the acquisition of mobile infrastructure, acquisition of mobile and portable equipment, and planning activities and classroom-based training within planning, training, and exercises are unlikely to require ground disturbing activities or affect historic properties or resources. Provided there are no sensitive areas or special conditions affected by the projects, projects of these types would not impact the environment and there would be no requirement to develop a site-specific EA .
Site-Specific Environmental Assessment (EA) Outline
There is no required format for a PSIC site-specific EA. However, most EAs are organized and presented according to the CEQ's Recommended Format for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). If an EA is required for a PSIC project, NTIA recommends that grantees consult and use this annotated EA outline.
NTIA Approved Site-Specific Environmental Assessments and Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI)
As mentioned above, not all projects under the PSIC Grant Program are covered by the PSIC Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) and require a site-specific EA. For those PSIC projects, NTIA reviews each EA to determine if it sufficiently addresses potential environmental impacts. NTIA then adopts the EA and provides a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) to serve as the NEPA compliance decision document for the PSIC project. FONSIs for PSIC projects requiring site-specific EAs can be found under Additional NEPA Resources below.
PSIC NEPA Review Process
This 4-page brochure provides an overview of the PSIC Grant Program NEPA review process. The brochure includes descriptions of the five PSIC project types, NTIA and grantee responsibilities throughout the 8-step process, a list of project-level environmental information needed for evaluations, and NEPA support team contact information.
Additional NEPA Resources
Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation Laws
Federal Environmental Law Compliance Resources
FONSIs and EAs