July 2001 (Updated January 2002)

Contents


Managing EIS Technical Analyses

FAA Orders 1050 and 5050 provide guidance on the type and extent of analysis required for the various categories of environmental impacts. This guide is intended to offer management, rather than technical, advice on EIS technical analyses.

  • Basic project planning data must be technically sound and reasonably current in order to provide an adequate backbone on which to build the EIS technical analyses. Questions and concerns about the planning data need to be resolved at the earliest practical point in the environmental review.

  • The proper scheduling of EIS analyses is very important. Some analyses have to wait on other work to be accomplished and data to be made available. Significant environmental impacts obviously merit the most attention and are usually attended to on schedule. Care should be taken that there is not delayed attention to apparent minor environmental issues that require more analytical work and procedure than anticipated.

  • The results of technical analyses need to be written in plain English and be understandable to a non-technical reader. It is particularly important to explain aviation information in terms that are understandable to the general public.

  • A key component of EIS quality control is to make sure that common data bases are used throughout an EIS by the different people preparing the various resource analyses. One part of an EIS cannot contradict another part. Sometimes, data are not inconsistent but have the appearance of being so (e.g., when percentages of different data baselines are used to describe changes). Care should be exercised to avoid the appearance of contradictory data that confuses the EIS reader. Apparently different data relationships need to be explained in the EIS. These tasks are primarily the responsibility of the EIS consultant. The FAA EIS project manager must also exercise quality control.

  • The focus of an EIS should be on the major issues and impacts, with less volume of information in the main body of the EIS on minor effects. EISs should clearly identify the environmental impacts that are judged by FAA to be significant and why, based on agency guidance.

  • Environmental mitigation can produce multiple benefits of reducing impacts on the community, increasing public acceptance of airport development, reducing certain environmental impacts below thresholds of significance, and satisfying substantive legal requirements (e.g., DOT Section 4(f). It is usually favorable to incorporate mitigation into project proposals as early as possible. Mitigation must be feasible (including operational and cost feasibility) and must be backed up by commitments from the airport proprietor and/or the party with authority and responsibility for the mitigation.

  • The size of EISs should be controlled by greater reliance on appendices and incorporating detailed data and background material by reference.