The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq.) created an environmental protection program for the United States and its territories. NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on the environment, identify reasonable alternatives, and consider the input of interested parties and the public. The NEPA process is intended to help agencies make informed decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. NEPA called for the creation of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). CEQ in turn created regulations for implementing NEPA (40 C.F.R. Part 1500-1508). Because NEPA is a procedural law, CEQ requires each federal agency, including the FirstNet Authority, to write their own NEPA compliance procedures to fit their particular programs. To comply with NEPA and its implementing regulations, as it applies to the deployment of the FirstNet network, the FirstNet Authority will utilize its NEPA implementing procedures and categorical exclusions. The FirstNet Authority, as both an independent federal authority and a licensee of the FCC, must satisfy its own NEPA requirements as well as comply with FCC-promulgated NEPA procedures. Recognizing both federal entities have responsibilities under these rules, the FirstNet Authority’s NEPA implementing procedures and categorical exclusions align with FCC procedures to avoid duplicative NEPA reviews that could otherwise result in unnecessary costs to and delays in the deployment of the FirstNet network.
The FirstNet Authority is required to make diligent efforts to involve the public in implementing its NEPA procedures. Public notice of availability is required of NEPA-related environmental assessments and environmental impact statements. Public notice will be placed in the paper of record in the vicinity of the proposed project or equivalent method. The notice of the proposal and draft environmental assessment will be posted on the FirstNet Authority’s website. These notices will describe the proposed project, identified alternatives, and potential environmental consequences of the project as well as a federal point of contact. Comments on these notices are invited, and the FirstNet Authority will consider all comments received.
In addition to NEPA and NHPA, the FirstNet Authority must consider various other statutes, regulations, and executive orders when reviewing all proposed projects for NEPA, including the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1531 et seq.) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. §§ 703 et seq.), among others. For a list of statutes, regulations, and executive orders that the FirstNet Authority considers during the development of a NEPA review, please see “Appendix A – List of Authorities” in the FirstNet Authority NEPA implementing procedures.
For more information about NEPA, the NEPA review process, and the role of the public and cooperating agencies, we also recommend visiting NEPA.gov.