Friday, November 19, 2010

A Guide to Environmental Impact Statements may help With Bridge Process

Over at LoveSalem, Walker has already observed the disconnect in advocating for high speed rail while also pressing for a highway-style bridge across the Willamette and for air travel.

If we could only be so lucky to focus our regional transportation efforts on rail!

In the meantime, here's help with an important part of the bridge process.

Navigating Draft Environmental Impact Statements

Following and understanding the Salem Rivercrossing project isn't always easy - indeed, perhaps it's never easy. Sometimes it may seem like government agencies want it that way!

Here's a guide to the policy framework and process behind the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is scheduled to be released early next year.

Its language about reasonable alternatives may be important, and we'll return to it later in more detail. The process behind "third bridge" is largely driven by the conviction that a large highway-style bridge is the only viable solution to several different problems. It is, at this point, far from certain that reasonable alternatives are being analyzed and entertained seriously. The "standpoint of the applicant" may hold undue weight here.
The lead agency or agencies must, “objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives, and for alternatives which were eliminated from detailed study, briefly discuss the reasons for their having been eliminated.” Reasonable alternatives are those that substantially meet the agency’s purpose and need. If the agency is considering an application for a permit or other federal approval, the agency must still consider all reasonable alternatives. Reasonable alternatives include those that are practical or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the applicant. Agencies are obligated to evaluate all reasonable alternatives or a range ofreasonable alternatives in enough detail so that a reader can compare and contrast the environmental effects of the various alternatives.

If you are interested in the river crossing process, and not already a dab hand at the NEPA process, this guide may be helpful!

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