Improving the U.S. Coast Guard’s Scoping & Public Involvement Processes
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The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a maritime, military agency within the Department of Homeland Security which by law has eleven required missions and its three core missions are Maritime Safety, Maritime Security and Maritime Stewardship1. As a lead federal agency the USCG is subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)2 and the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations3. The NEPA and CEQ regulations prescribe very detailed instructions to ensure compliance using an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)4. The detailed instructions include certain requirements for conducting public scoping; the public being a key element in the NEPA process. However, in most cases, USCG actions do not require an EIS and therefore public involvement is rarely used during the agency’s NEPA process5. In most cases, during the USCG NEPA process the use of Environmental Assessments (EA) and Categorical Exclusions (CE) are determined to be the most appropriate NEPA documentation for their projects. Neither the CEQ regulations nor any USCG regulations require any public involvement during the NEPA process when using the EA or CE. CEQ regulations require the mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)6 be made available to the public but that is after the decision making process is complete. The public is not normally afforded any opportunity to review or provide comments prior to final decisions being made on proposed projects to be completed by the USCG using EAs and CEs. While there are no violations of the law, this is not within the spirit of NEPA. The spirit of NEPA is a shared decision making process with the federal agency and the public. This paper will examine the intent of the NEPA and CEQ regulations in regards to public involvement process. Secondly, it will discuss the current USCG NEPA implementing policy and finally it provides two recommendations to improve public’s involvement within the USCG’s NEPA program.
CitationSchmidt, Hector (2012). Improving the U.S. Coast Guard’s Scoping & Public Involvement Processes. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5993.
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Rights for Collection: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Education and Certificate Program Capstone Papers