The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is designed to ensure that the environmental consequences of major federal decisions are known and available to the public before decisions are made and actions are undertaken. Public scoping assists in the environmental review process by providing a means to inform the public about activities that involve a federal action and solicit their comments regarding the proposed action.
A Notice of Intent (NOI), an official legal notice published in the Federal Register, announces that a federal agency is beginning the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and often includes information about the public scoping process. The Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project EIS NOI was published in the Federal Register on April 8, 2005 (Federal Register Volume 70, No. 67). BLM issued another NOI announcing a second scoping period. The second NOI was published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2006 (Federal Register Volume 71, No. 138). The NOI's encouraged the public and other federal, state, local, and tribal governments to participate in assisting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in identifying issues to be considered for evaluation in the EIS.
An initial public scoping period (April 8, 2005 - August 1, 2005) was provided for submission of comments. A second scoping period (July 19, 2006 - October 18, 2006) was provided for submission of additional comments regarding substantive project changes. The two substantive changes were 1) the addition of conveyance of water to Lincoln County, and 2) the removal of the Tikaboo Lateral in Tikaboo Valley North. Scoping packages were provided to the public for each scoping period through the project mailing list and public meetings.
EIS Scoping Package (2005 Scoping Period) (1746 KB)
EIS Scoping Package (2006 Scoping Period) (3337 KB)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held nine public meetings throughout Nevada and Utah between April 26, 2006 and May 11, 2006. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the public that a right-of-way application had been filed and the EIS process had begun. Public meetings are an opportunity for the EIS team to meet the public, provide information on the project, explain the EIS process and laws/regulations that play an integral part of completing the EIS, and to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions. At each meeting, the scoping process was explained and fact sheets with comment forms were provided.
The public scoping meetings were held in Ely (4/26/06), Baker (4/27/06), Caliente (4/28/06), Alamo (5/3/06), Las Vegas (5/4/06), and Reno (5/5/06), Nevada, as well as Salt Lake City (5/9/06), Cedar City (5/10/06), and Delta (5/11/06), Utah. The BLM distributed press releases announcing the dates, locations, and times of scoping meetings to local and regional print and broadcast media. The press release was sent to newspapers as well as radio and television stations for airing of public service announcements. Paid legal notices indicating the dates, locations, and times of scoping meetings were published in the local newspapers for each of the cities listed above.
Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project EIS Final Scoping Summary Report
The purpose of the scoping report is to summarize the issues that were brought to the attention of the BLM during the scoping period and to explain to what extent each issue will be carried through the analysis.
During the two public scoping periods, BLM received 210 oral comments (given at public meetings), 1,210 substantive letters, and 4,958 form letters. The general categories of issues that were brought forward were:
The NEPA Process: comments received were related to the purpose and need of the project, the project description, project alternatives, and connected actions, related projects, and cumulative impacts.
Natural and Human Resources: comments received were related to climate and air quality, geology, soils, water resources and water rights, biological resources, wild horses and burros, land use, aesthetics, cultural resources, socioeconomics, and public health and safety.
The Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project EIS Scoping Summary Report from Round 1 of scoping was made available to the public in September, 2006. The Final Scoping Summary Report, which summarizes the issues from both rounds of scoping, was made available to the public in January 2007 and was updated in February 2007. The final report gives detailed information about public scoping efforts made by the BLM, agency coordination, scoping comment analysis, an explanation of significant issues to be considered in the EIS, and a summary of future steps.