16 September 2011
EIS of Huge Security Complex Along US-Canadian Border
[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 180 (Friday, September 16, 2011)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-23993]
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Customs and Border Protection
Notice of Availability of a Draft Programmatic Environmental
Impact Statement for Northern Border Activities
AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS.
ACTION: Notice of availability; Request for comments; Notice of public
SUMMARY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announces that a
Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) is now
available and open for public comment. The Draft PEIS analyzes the
potential environmental and socioeconomic effects associated with its
ongoing and potential future activities along the Northern Border
between the United States and Canada. The overall area of study
analyzed in the document extends approximately 4,000 miles from Maine
to Washington and 100 miles south of the U.S.-Canada Border. CBP also
announces that it will be holding a series of public meetings in
October to obtain comments regarding the Draft PEIS.
DATES: CBP invites comments on the Draft PEIS during the 45 day comment
period, which begins on September 16, 2011. To ensure consideration,
comments must be received by October 31, 2011. Comments may be
submitted as set forth in the ADDRESSES section of this document. CBP
will hold public meetings on the Draft PEIS. The locations, dates, and
times are listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to the Draft PEIS by any of
the following methods. Please include your name and address and the
state or region to which the comment applies, as appropriate. To avoid
duplication, please use only one of the following methods for providing
Project Web site: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com/public-
Mail: CBP Northern Border PEIS, P.O. Box 3625, McLean,
Virginia 22102; Phone voicemail box: (866) 760-1421 (comments recorded
in the voicemail box will be transcribed).
You may download the Draft PEIS from the project Web site:
http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com. It will also be made available on the
Department of Homeland Security Web site (http://www.dhs.gov). Copies
of the Draft PEIS may also be obtained by submitting a request through
one of the methods listed below. Please include your name and mailing
address in your request.
E-mail: Comments@NorthernBorderPEIS.com and write ``Draft
PEIS'' in the subject line;
Mail: CBP Northern Border PEIS, (Draft PEIS Request), P.O.
Box 3625, McLean, VA 22102;
Phone: (866) 760-1421.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Hass, CBP, Office of
Administration, telephone (202) 344-1929. You may also visit the
project's Web site at: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com.
Public Meetings and Invitation To Comment
CBP invites comments on all aspects of the Draft PEIS. Comments
that will provide the most assistance to CBP will reference a specific
section of the Draft PEIS, explain the reason for any recommended
change, and include data, information, or authority that support such
recommended change. Substantive comments received during the comment
period will be addressed in, and included as an appendix to, the Final
PEIS. The Final PEIS will be made available to the public through a
Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
Comments may be submitted as described in the ADDRESSES section of
this document. Respondents may request to withhold names or street
addresses, except for city or town, from public view or from disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act. Such a request must be stated
prominently at the beginning of the comment. Such requests will be
honored to the extent allowed by law. This request to withhold personal
information does not apply to submissions from organizations or
businesses, or from individuals identifying themselves as
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses.
CBP will hold public meetings to inform the public and solicit
comments about the Draft PEIS. Meetings will be held from 7 p.m. to 9
p.m. at each of the locations and dates provided below. The meeting in
the Washington, DC area is for interested parties located outside of
the project's areas of interest. Meetings will include displays,
handouts, and a presentation by CBP, and will provide an opportunity
for the public to record their comments on the Draft PEIS. Changes in
meeting plans, due to inclement weather or other causes, will be
announced on the project's Web site at: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com,
and on a telephone message at: (866) 760-1421.
Date City, state Location
October 3.... Duluth, MN............. Holiday Inn, 200 West First Street, Duluth, MN
October 4.... Massena, NY............ VFW, 101 W Hatfield St., Massena, NY 13662.
October 4.... Caribou, ME............ Caribou Inn and Convention Center, 19 Main
Street, Caribou, ME 04736.
October 5.... Augusta, ME............ The Senator Inn & Spa, 284 Western Ave.,
Augusta, ME 04330.
October 5.... Bottineau, ND.......... Twin Oaks Resort & Convention Center, 10723 Lake
Loop Road, Bottineau, ND 58318.
October 6.... St. Albans, VT......... The Senator Historical Museum, 9 Church Street,
St. Albans, VT 05478.
October 6.... Detroit, MI............ Holiday Inn Express, 1020 Washington Boulevard,
Detroit, MI 48226.
October 6.... Havre, MT.............. The Town House Inn, 627 1st Street West, Havre,
October 11... Bellingham, WA......... Hampton Inn, 3958 Bennett Drive, Bellingham, WA
October 11... Rochester, NY.......... Holiday Inn--Rochester Airport, 911 Brooks
Avenue, Rochester, NY 14624.
October 12... Erie, PA............... Ambassador Banquet Center, 7794 Peach Street,
Erie, PA 16509.
October 13... Naples, ID............. The Great Northwest Territories Event Center,
336 County Road 8, Naples, ID 83847.
October 17... Washington, DC......... Crystal City Marriott at Regan National Airport,
1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22201.
The public may obtain information concerning the status and
progress of the PEIS, as well as view and download the document, via
the project's Web site at: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with the
mission of enforcing customs, immigration, agriculture, and numerous
other laws and regulations at the Nation's borders and facilitating
legitimate trade and travel through legal ports of entry. As the
guardian of the United States' borders, CBP protects the roughly 4,000
miles of Northern Border between United States and Canada, from Maine
to Washington. The terrain ranges from densely forested lands on the
west and east coasts to open plains in the middle of the country.
CBP has completed a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact
Statement (PEIS) for its ongoing and potential future activities along
the Northern Border. The Draft PEIS is now available for public review
and comment. (For instructions on obtaining a copy of the PEIS or on
submitting comments, please see the ADDRESSES section of this
document.) An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a study of the
potential effects on the environment from a specific Federal action. A
Programmatic EIS (PEIS) is an EIS that looks at the general types of
effects of a whole broad program of actions. It often forms the
foundation for a ``regular'' or site-specific EIS, which looks in
general detail at the effects of a specific project slated for a
particular place. Because this effort is programmatic in nature, the
Draft PEIS does not define effects for a specific or planned action.
Instead, it analyzes the overall environmental and socioeconomic
effects of activities supporting the homeland security mission of CBP
focused on applying alternative approaches to better secure the border.
On July 6, 2010, CBP published in the Federal Register (75 FR
38822) a notice announcing that CBP intended to prepare four PEISs to
analyze the environmental effects of current and potential future CBP
border security activities along the Northern Border. Each PEIS was to
cover one region of the Northern Border: the New England region, the
Great Lakes region, the region east of the Rocky Mountains, and the
region west of the Rocky Mountains. The notice also announced and
initiated the public scoping process to gather information from the
public in preparation for drafting the PEISs. As indicated in the
notice, the scoping period concluded on August 5, 2010. However, CBP
continued to take comments past the initial scoping period. For more
information on this process, please see the section of this document
entitled Public Scoping Process.
Subsequently, and in part due to comments received during public
scoping, CBP decided to refocus its approach and develop one PEIS
covering the entire Northern Border, rather than four separate,
regional PEISs. This new approach was designed to ensure that CBP could
effectively analyze and convey impacts that occur across regions of the
Northern Border. CBP published a notice in the Federal Register
announcing this intention on November 9, 2010 (75 FR 68810). While this
makes for a somewhat larger single document, it offers the advantage of
less duplication and greater usefulness as a CBP planning tool.
Aided by the information gained during the public scoping process,
CBP has prepared the Draft PEIS to analyze the environmental and
socioeconomic effects of current and potential future CBP border
security activities along the Northern Border between the United States
and Canada, including an area extending approximately 100 miles south
of the Northern Border. For the purposes of the PEIS, the Northern
Border is defined as the area between the United States and Canada
extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean encompassing all
the States between Maine and Washington, inclusively. (The Alaska-
Canada border is not included in this effort.) CBP is evaluating the
environmental and socioeconomic impacts of routine aspects of its
operations along the Northern Border and considering enhancements to
its infrastructure, technologies, and application of manpower to
continue to deter existing and evolving threats to the Nation's
physical and economic security. Due to the diverse and natural
environments along the Northern Border, the Draft PEIS analyzes four
Northern Border regions, referred to above: the New England region, the
Great Lakes region, the region east of the Rocky Mountains, and the
region west of the Rocky Mountains. CBP plans to use the information
derived from the analysis in the PEIS in management, planning, and
decision-making for its mission and its environmental stewardship
responsibilities. It will also be used to establish a foundation for
future impact analyses.
More specifically, CBP plans to use the PEIS analysis over the next
five to seven years as CBP works to improve security along the Northern
Border. To protect the Northern Border against evolving terrorist and
criminal threats, CBP plans to implement a diversified approach to
border security over the next five to seven years that responds most
effectively to those threats. This will involve some combination of
facilities, security infrastructure, technologies, and operational
activities, although the specific combination of elements that will be
used over this period cannot be determined at this time. CBP will use
this PEIS as a foundation for future environmental analyses of specific
programs or locations as CBP's plans for particular Northern Border
security activities develop.
The Draft PEIS considers the environmental impacts of several
alternative approaches CBP may use to protect the Northern Border
against evolving threats. These alternatives would all support
continued deployment of existing CBP personnel in the most effective
manner while maintaining officer safety and continued use of
partnerships with other Federal, state, and local law enforcement
agencies in the United States and Canada. CBP needs to maintain
effective control of the Northern Border via all air, land, and
maritime pathways for cross-border movement.
The No Action Alternative (or ``status quo'') would be to continue
with the same facilities, technology, infrastructure, and approximate
level of personnel currently in use, deployed, or currently planned by
CBP. Normal maintenance of existing facilities is included in this
alternative. This alternative would not meet CBP's goals as it would
not allow CBP to improve its capability to interdict cross-border
violators or to identify and resolve threats at the ports of entry in a
manner that avoids adverse effects on legal trade and travel. However,
it is evaluated in this Draft PEIS because it provides a baseline
against which the impacts of the other reasonable alternatives can be
The Facilities Development and Improvement Alternative would focus
on providing new permanent facilities or improvements to existing
facilities such as Border Patrol stations, ports of entry, and other
facilities to allow CBP agents to operate more efficiently and respond
to situations more quickly. This alternative would help meet CBP's
goals because the new and improved facilities would make it more
difficult for cross-border violators to cross the border. It
would also divert traffic from or increase the capacity of the more
heavily used ports of entry, decreasing waiting times. The
applicability of this alternative would be limited, as most roads
crossing the Northern Border already have a crossing facility.
The Detection, Inspection, Surveillance and Communications
Technology Expansion Alternative would focus on deploying more
effective detection, inspection surveillance and communication
technologies in support of CBP activities. This alternative would
involve utilizing upgraded systems that would enable CBP to focus
efforts on identifying threat areas, improving agent and officer
communication systems, and deploying personnel to resolve incidents
with maximum efficiency. This alternative would help meet CBP's goals
by improving CBP's situational awareness and allowing CBP to more
efficiently and effectively direct its resources for interdicting
The Tactical Security Infrastructure Deployment Alternative would
focus on constructing additional barriers, access roads, and related
facilities. The barriers would include selective fencing and vehicle
barriers at selected points along the border and would deter and delay
cross-border violators. The access roads and related facilities would
increase the mobility of agents, and enhance their capabilities for
surveillance and for responding to various international border
violations. This alternative would help meet CBP's goals by
discouraging cross-border violators and improving CBP's capacity to
The Flexible Direction Alternative (the Preferred Alternative)
would allow CBP to follow any of the above directions in order to
employ the most effective response to the changing threat environment
along the Northern Border. This approach would allow CBP to respond
more appropriately to a constantly changing threat environment.
Public Scoping Process
CBP developed and executed a public scoping program for the PEIS to
identify public concerns to be examined in the PEIS. ``Scoping'' of an
EIS is a process of informing diverse stakeholders about an action that
an agency is planning and seeking those stakeholders' feedback on the
environmental concerns that the action could generate. The intent of
the scoping effort is to adopt the scope of the planned environmental
document to ensure that it addresses relevant concerns identified by
interested members of the public as well as organizations, Native
American Tribes, and other government agencies and officials.
CBP's public scoping period for the Northern Border PEIS commenced
on July 6, 2010 and concluded on August 5, 2010. See 75 FR 38822. The
public scoping process was initiated with the publishing of a notice of
intent (NOI) notifying the public of CBP's decision to prepare the
PEISs. In coordination with the publication of the NOI, display
advertisements were published in various newspapers serving local
communities, public service announcements were broadcasted on local
radio stations, scoping letters were mailed to potentially interested
stakeholders consisting of agencies, organizations, and individuals,
and a project Web site was developed. Following the publication of the
NOI, a series of public scoping meetings were held in July 2010.
CBP encouraged the public to submit comments concerning the scope
of the PEIS during the public meetings, or via Web site, e-mail, or
letter. The comments CBP received during the public scoping process
were used to adapt the scope of the Draft PEIS and to ensure that it
addressed relevant concerns identified by interested members of the
public as well as organizations, Native American Tribes, and other
government agencies and officials. CBP has compiled a list of comments
received in a scoping report. This report is available on the project's
Web site at: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com.
This environmental analysis is being conducted pursuant to the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et
seq., the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing
the NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and Department of Homeland Security
Directive 023-01 (renumbered from 5100.1), Environmental Planning
Program of April 19, 2006. NEPA addresses concerns about environmental
quality and the government's role in protecting it. The essence of NEPA
is the requirement that every Federal agency examine the environmental
effects of any proposed action before deciding to proceed with it or
with some alternative. NEPA and the implementing regulations issued by
the President's Council on Environmental Quality call for agencies to
document the potential environmental effects of actions they are
proposing. Generally, agencies must make those documents public, and
seek public feedback on them.
In accordance with NEPA, the PEIS analyzes the effects on the
environment of the Northern Border Security Program. CBP will seek
public input on these studies and will use them in agency planning and
decision making. Because NEPA is a uniquely broad environmental law and
covers the full spectrum of the natural and human environment, the PEIS
will also address environmental considerations governed by other
environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act,
Endangered Species Act, and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
NHPA Programmatic Agreement
CBP is developing a Programmatic Agreement (PA) for operations
along the Northern Border in accordance with Section 106 of NHPA, 16
U.S.C. 470f, and its implementing regulations (36 CFR part 800). While
the PA is being pursued as an independent action from the PEIS, it will
be applied to future activities occurring within the Northern Border
study area and therefore is relevant to the Northern Border PEIS
project. The Northern Border is defined for purposes of the PA as
extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean encompassing all
the States between Maine to Washington, including an area extending
approximately 100 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border. This area is
identical to the area of study of the PEIS.
CBP is currently consulting and coordinating with the Historic
Preservation Officers of the states of Idaho, Maine, Michigan,
Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota,
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Washington, and the Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to finalize an agreed upon
framework for future Section 106 reviews for CBP actions. The PA will
be signed by CBP, the ACHP, State Historic Preservation Officers, and
other consulting parties. The signed PA will identify (1) activities
and projects carried out by CBP that are agreed do not have the
potential to affect properties either listed or eligible for listing in
the National Register of Historic Places, and (2) activities that are
considered undertakings that do not require consultation under Section
106. Additionally, the PA identifies actions that may have an effect
but that will not require Section 106 review by CBP, State or Tribal
Historic Preservation Officers, Tribes and other consulting parties, so
long as all terms and conditions as described in the PA are
satisfactorily met. The signed PA will be valid for five years from the
execution, as verified with CBP filing the PA with the ACHP.
After the public comment period on the draft PEIS, CBP will
complete a Final PEIS. The Final PEIS will be made available to the
public through a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. CBP
will then select a programmatic course of action to guide CBP's
activities along the Northern Border for the next five to seven years.
That decision will be published in the Federal Register in a Record of
Dated: September 14, 2011.
Acting Executive Director, Facilities Management and Engineering,
Office of Administration.
[FR Doc. 2011-23993 Filed 9-15-11; 8:45 am]
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