[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 5 (Wednesday, January 8, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1363-1371]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31495]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket Number: 131219999-3999-01]
RIN 0660-XC009


First Responder Network Authority; National Environmental Policy 
Act Implementing Procedures and Categorical Exclusions

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice, Request for Public Comment.

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SUMMARY: The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) publishes 
this notice to request public comments on its proposed procedures for 
implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These 
proposed NEPA implementing procedures are necessary to assist FirstNet 
in establishing an NEPA compliance program and applying the appropriate 
level of NEPA review for activities undertaken by FirstNet in the 
design, construction and operation of the nationwide interoperable 
public safety broadband network (PSBN).

DATES: Comments on the proposed procedures must be received by February 
7, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The public is invited to submit written comments in 
electronic form. Written comments may be submitted by email to 
FirstNetNEPAcomments@ntia.doc.gov or mail (to the address listed 
below). All comments submitted in electronic form should be in a 
standard format such as Word or PDF. All comments submitted via mail 
should include, to the extent available, an electronic copy of the 
submission. However, paper copies of the comments will be accepted. All 
comments received will be made a part of the public record and may be 
posted to NTIA's Web site (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/firstnet) 
without change. All personally identifiable information (e.g., name, 
address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit confidential business

[[Page 1364]]

information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eli Veenendaal, National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., HCHB Room 4713, Washington, DC 
20230; (202) 482-2188; or eveenendaal@ntia.doc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. National Environmental Policy Act

    The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347) 
(NEPA) requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of 
environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making a final 
decision and implementing the action. NEPA requirements apply to any 
federal project, decision, or action that may have a significant impact 
on the quality of the human environment. NEPA also establishes the 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which issued regulations 
implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA. Among other 
considerations, CEQ regulations require federal agencies at 40 CFR 
1507.3 to adopt their own implementing procedures to supplement CEQ's 
regulations implementing NEPA and to consult with CEQ during their 
development and prior to publication in the Federal Register.
    The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 
112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012)) (Act) creates and authorizes FirstNet to 
take all actions necessary to ensure the design, construction, and 
operation of a nationwide interoperable nationwide, public safety 
broadband network (PSBN) based on a single, national network 
architecture. The Act meets a long-standing and critical national 
infrastructure need to create a single, nationwide interoperable PSBN 
that will, for the first time, allow police officers, fire fighters, 
emergency medical service professionals and other public safety 
officials to effectively communicate with each other across agencies 
and jurisdictions.
    As a newly created entity, FirstNet does not currently have 
procedures for implementing NEPA. The proposed NEPA implementing 
procedures are necessary to assist FirstNet in establishing an NEPA 
compliance program and applying the appropriate level of NEPA review 
for activities undertaken by FirstNet in the design, construction and 
operation of the nationwide interoperable PSBN. Accordingly, FirstNet 
is requesting public comment on its proposed implementing procedures 
before utilizing them as part of its NEPA review process. The proposed 
procedures are set forth as an addendum to this notice.

II. Background

    FirstNet is responsible for, at a minimum, ensuring nationwide 
standards for the use of and access to the network; issuing open, 
transparent and competitive requests for proposals (RFPs) to build, 
operate and maintain the network; encouraging these RFPs to leverage, 
to the maximum extent economically desirable, existing commercial 
wireless infrastructure to speed deployment of the network; and 
overseeing contracts with non-federal entities to build, operate and 
maintain the network.
    The specific actions anticipated to be undertaken by FirstNet 
encompass a variety of activities including the installation of cables, 
cell towers, antenna colocations, buildings, and power units as defined 
in the following examples:
    (a) Buried Plant/Facilities: The construction of buried outside 
plant facilities generally consists of plowing or trenching cable at a 
depth of approximately 36 to 48 alongside the 
road usually in a utility corridor or within public road rights-of-way.
    (b) Aerial Plant/Facilities: The construction of aerial facilities 
is either done by installing new poles and hanging cables on it on 
public rights-of-way or by installing cables using existing poles lines 
from a third party.
    (c) Towers: The construction of towers for cell sites and/or 
microwave dishes. Tower construction is typically done by installing a 
concrete foundation and building the tower on it. The heights of the 
towers vary from 120 feet to 400 feet.
    (d) Co-Locations: The mounting or installation of an antenna on an 
existing tower, building or structure for the purpose of transmitting 
and/or receiving radio frequency signal for communication purposes.
    (e) Building construction: Generally consists of installing small 
pre-fabricated shelters on tower sites that are used for housing 
electronic equipment. These shelters are usually placed on concrete 
pads and generally require very minimal disturbance of the land. On 
extremely rare occasion, the construction of a headquarters and/or 
warehouse building may be necessary. The amount of land disturbance 
resulting from this type of construction can vary depending on the size 
of the proposed building.
    (f) Power Units: The installation of power units, such as, an 
uninterruptible power supply (UPS) could be added to existing third 
party tower sites either on the existing concrete pad or by adding a 
new concrete pad if required at the site.
    FirstNet is also required to leverage, to the maximum extent 
economically possible, existing commercial infrastructure in its 
deployment and operation of the PSBN.
    The geographic scope of the PSBN encompasses all U.S. states and 
territories. Thus, FirstNet actions will likely occur in a wide range 
of environmental settings and require FirstNet to establish a process 
for analyzing proposed actions and making NEPA determinations based on 
the specific location and type of proposed project activities.
    Therefore, FirstNet seeks to establish NEPA implementing procedures 
to better follow the letter and spirit of NEPA; comply fully with the 
CEQ Regulations; and apply the NEPA review process early in the 
planning stages of the PSBN.

III. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The notice does not contain collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq.). Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person is 
required to, nor shall a person be subject to penalty for failure to 
comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of 
PRA unless that collection of information displays a currently valid 
OMB control number.

IV. Environmental Impact

    These NEPA procedures are intended to supplement CEQ regulations 
and provide guidance to FirstNet employees regarding the procedural 
requirements for the application of NEPA to FirstNet. CEQ does not 
direct agencies to prepare NEPA analysis or document before 
establishing agency procedures that supplement the CEQ regulations for 
implementing NEPA. Agency NEPA procedures are procedural guidance to 
assist agencies in the fulfillment of their responsibilities under 
NEPA. The requirements for establishing NEPA procedures are set for at 
40 CFR 1505.1 and 1507.3.


[[Page 1365]]


    Dated: December 30, 2013.
Stuart Kupinsky,
Chief Counsel, First Responder Network Authority.

Addendum

First Responder Network Authority Management Directive

First Responder Network Authority Procedures for Implementing the 
National Environmental Policy Act

Sections

1.01 Purpose
1.02 Scope
1.03 Policies
1.04 Definitions
1.05 Program Goals
1.06 Responsibilities
1.07 Environmental Review Process
1.08 Effective Date
Appendix A--List of Authorities
Appendix B--Glossary
Appendix C--Categorical Exclusions
Appendix D--Extraordinary Circumstances

1.01 Purpose

    The purpose of this Management Directive (Directive) is to 
establish the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) policies, 
requirements, and procedures for complying with the National 
Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA), and the 
implementing regulations issued by the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ Regulations) as codified in Parts 1500-1508 of Title 40 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508).

1.02 Scope

    The provisions of this Directive apply to actions undertaken by 
FirstNet and specifically apply to any of the following actions 
undertaken by FirstNet:
    (a) Legislative proposals initiated by FirstNet for which FirstNet 
would have primary action responsibility.
    (b) Research, projects, and activities directly undertaken by 
FirstNet, or the research, projects and activities of a non-Federal 
entity supported or facilitated by FirstNet, including through grants 
and other forms of financial assistance, where FirstNet has sufficient 
involvement to influence, control, direct or affect material aspects of 
the research, project or activity.
    (c) Actions to establish an official policy or adopt a formal plan 
or program. (40 CFR 1508.18).

1.03 Policies

    FirstNet policies and programs shall be planned, developed, and 
implemented so as to achieve the goals and to follow the procedures 
declared by NEPA in order to assure responsible stewardship of the 
environment for present and future generations. Accordingly, FirstNet 
shall adhere to the following actions to ensure compliance with NEPA.
    (a) FirstNet adopts the CEQ Regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) 
for implementing NEPA.
    (b) FirstNet shall:
    1. Comply with the CEQ Regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508);
    2. Report and coordinate its policies and procedures with the 
Department of Commerce Office of General Counsel, as appropriate;
    3. Ensure activities and planning regarding Federal actions 
consider the environmental consequences of proposed actions in 
conjunction with mission requirements and objectives;
    4. Consider and give weight to environmental factors in making 
decisions in order to achieve a proper balance between the development 
and utilization of natural, cultural and human resources, and the 
protection and enhancement of environmental quality;
    5. Consult, coordinate and cooperate with other Federal agencies 
and, where appropriate, state, local and tribal governments in the 
development and implementation of FirstNet's plans and programs 
affecting environmental quality and, in turn, to give consideration to 
those activities that succeed in best addressing state and local 
concerns;
    6. Identify potential Federal, state, local and tribal cooperating 
agencies early during the NEPA scoping process;
    7. Participate as a lead or cooperative agency, as appropriate, 
with other federal agencies where FirstNet is involved in the same 
action as other agencies, or is involved in an action which is related 
to another agency's action because of their functional interdependence 
or geographical proximity;
    8. As requested, and where resources allow, review and provide 
comments on draft NEPA documents submitted by other Federal agencies 
where the action relates to FirstNet's mission or operations;
    (c) FirstNet shall ensure appropriate action is taken to comply 
with NEPA when actions are planned by private applicants or other non-
Federal entities before Federal involvement so that:
    1. Policies or designated staff is available to advise potential 
applicants of existing studies or other information foreseeably 
required for later Federal action.
    2. The Federal agency consults early with appropriate state, local 
and tribal governments and with interested private persons and 
organizations when its own involvement is reasonable foreseeable.
    3. The Federal agency commences its NEPA process at the earliest 
possible time.
    (d) While it is the policy of FirstNet to fully evaluate its 
actions in accordance with the requirements of NEPA and the CEQ 
regulations, certain actions may result from statutory requirements 
involving little or no discretion on the part of FirstNet. In the case 
of such actions, a determination of non-applicability of NEPA should be 
made by the FirstNet NEPA Coordinator in coordination with the FirstNet 
Chief Counsel.

1.04 Definitions

    This Directive incorporates all definitions and phrases as defined 
by CEQ in its regulations at 40 CFR Part 1508. To ensure full 
compliance, the CEQ regulations should be consulted for comprehensive 
explanations of the terms. A glossary of words and phrases as used in 
this Directive is included in Appendix B.

1.05 Program Goals

    FirstNet will follow a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to 
planning in order to ensure a reasonable use of environment resources 
without degradation, risk to health and safety, or other undesirable 
and unintended consequences. The FirstNet NEPA program is designed to 
ensure that:
    (a) Proposed actions to be undertaken by FirstNet are identified 
early in the planning process, and brought to the attention of the NEPA 
Coordinator;
    (b) Actions are evaluated to determine the appropriate applicable 
NEPA review (i.e., CE, Environmental Assessment (EA), or Environmental 
Impact Study (EIS));
    (c) An interdisciplinary approach is taken to proactively consider 
environmental impacts and identify and consider the full range of 
viable alternatives at the earliest planning stages of an action and 
prior to rendering any decision;
    (d) The planning process integrates environmental review and 
consultation requirements;
    (e) The impacts of proposed activities, programs, and projects on 
the quality of the human environment are considered before making an 
irretrievable and irreversible commitment of resources; and
    (f) The public is engaged and involved with the planning process 
and evaluation of environmental impacts, as appropriate.

[[Page 1366]]

1.06 Responsibilities

    FirstNet roles and responsibilities relating to the implementation 
and compliance with NEPA are as follows:
    (a) The Chair of the Board (Chair). The Chair has the ultimate 
responsibility to fulfill FirstNet's compliance with NEPA. The Chair 
directs the FirstNet General Manger (GM) to (1) ensure that 
environmental planning is incorporated into FirstNet decision making 
processes and (2) coordinate with the designated NEPA Coordinator for 
advice and guidance on proper and adequate compliance with NEPA 
requirements.
    (b) FirstNet General Manger (GM). The GM shall:
    1. Establish and oversee the proper implementation of a FirstNet 
NEPA compliance program in accordance with the requirements of this 
Directive;
    2. Advise the Chair on NEPA processes that are highly 
controversial, are nationally significant, or require the establishment 
of a new FirstNet NEPA-related policy;
    3. Inform the Chair of current developments in NEPA policy and 
implementing procedures;
    4. Support early, proactive, and comprehensive coordination and 
outreach processes across FirstNet;
    5. Appoint a NEPA Coordinator to carry out the responsibilities 
delineated below in paragraph c; and
    6. Sign Records of Decision (ROD), Findings of No Significant 
Impact (FONSIs) and memos citing Categorical Exclusions (CEs), or re-
delegate this authority in writing to other FirstNet personnel, as 
appropriate.
    (c) FirstNet NEPA Coordinator (NEPA Coordinator). Responsible for 
coordinating and overseeing FirstNet's compliance with NEPA. To 
accomplish this the NEPA Coordinator will:
    1. Assist the Chair and GM in implementing FirstNet's compliance 
with NEPA;
    2. Review and provide final clearance on all NEPA documents covered 
by this Directive;
    3. Transmit, with written recommendation, all NEPA documents for 
action to the GM or authorized designee for signature or other 
appropriate agency action;
    4. Develop and recommend policies, procedures and technical and 
administrative advice and training to facilitate and improve FirstNet's 
effective and efficient implementation of NEPA.
    5. Provide technical and administrative advice and training to 
relevant stakeholders so that they are aware of, and comply with, the 
NEPA process and so that they consider the impacts of their programs, 
projects, and policies;
    6. Act as liaison with the Department, CEQ and U.S. EPA on NEPA-
related matters or issues, and coordinate with other federal agencies 
with respect to significant NEPA matters;
    7. Prepare or review, as appropriate, all inter- or intra-agency 
reports, surveys and comments on NEPA-related matters, including other 
agency NEPA documentation, or legislative proposals;
    8. Consult early and often with relevant stakeholders to identify 
how the requirements of this Directive will be met. At a minimum:
    A. Determine the applicability of NEPA and, if applicable, the 
appropriate NEPA review procedure (i.e., CE, EA, or EIS) and public 
involvement, in consultation with the Chief Counsel of FirstNet, as 
necessary;
    B. Review and comment upon draft NEPA documents to ensure that a 
high-quality analysis is completed, reasonable or appropriate 
alternatives are identified and discussed, and that all applicable 
scheduling, scoping, consultation, circulation, and public involvement 
requirements are met;
    C. Assist in consultations with other Federal, state, and local 
regulatory and/or resource agencies and tribal governments on draft 
NEPA documents, as appropriate; and
    D. Otherwise act as a resource to the relevant stakeholders to 
ensure that the NEPA document to be prepared identifies reasonably 
foreseeable significant impacts of the action, sufficiently analyzes 
the impacts, clearly presents the findings and fairly considers 
reasonable or appropriate alternatives to the action.
    (d) FirstNet Chief Counsel: The Chief Counsel of FirstNet shall 
provide all legal services regarding NEPA compliance, including:
    1. Providing legal sufficiency reviews of NEPA documents, as 
appropriate;
    2. Assisting the Chair, GM, and NEPA Coordinator in determining the 
applicable NEPA review for a proposed action; and
    3. Assisting the Chair, GM, and NEPA Coordinator in establishing or 
revising this Directive and the FirstNet NEPA compliance program, as 
necessary.

1.07 Environmental Review Process

    The environmental review process describes the applicable CE, EA, 
or EIS process for a proposed FirstNet action and includes actions 
required by CEQ in 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 for compliance with NEPA. The 
process involves the following series of actions accomplished by or 
under the direction of the Chair of FirstNet or a delegate.

Developing the Purpose and Need

    FirstNet shall ensure the purpose and need of a proposed action 
considers the FirstNet mission. FirstNet is authorized and directed by 
statute to take all actions necessary to ensure the design, 
construction, and operation of a nationwide interoperable public safety 
broadband network (PSBN) based on a single, national network 
architecture. The establishment of the nationwide PSBN meets a long-
standing and critical national infrastructure need that will, for the 
first time, allow police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical 
service professionals, and other public safety officials to effectively 
communicate with each other across agencies and jurisdictions.

Apply NEPA Early in the Process

    FirstNet shall integrate the NEPA process with other planning for 
the nationwide PSBN at the earliest possible time to ensure that 
planning and decisions reflect environmental values to avoid delays 
later in the process and head off potential conflicts. Accordingly, 
FirstNet shall:
    (a) Identify environmental impacts and resources in adequate detail 
so they can be compared and evaluated with economic and technical 
considerations. Wherever practicable, environmental documents with 
appropriate analyses should be circulated and reviewed at the same time 
as other planning documents.
    (b) Study, develop, and analyze reasonable alternatives to 
recommended courses of action. Consider mitigation measures which could 
avoid, ameliorate, lessen, or compensate identified impacts of the 
proposed action.
    (c) Where the action requiring FirstNet review is by a private 
applicant or other non-Federal entity:
    1. The NEPA Coordinator or an assigned FirstNet Environmental 
Protection Specialist will advise the applicant of FirstNet's policies 
and procedures for NEPA compliance, and make available or direct the 
applicant to resources within FirstNet, the Department or elsewhere in 
the Federal government to facilitate the applicant's consideration of 
and explanation of environmental impacts and alternatives.
    2. FirstNet will consult with appropriate state, local, and tribal 
governments and appropriate organizations on environmental impacts and 
alternatives of the proposed action when its own involvement is 
reasonably foreseeable.
    3. FirstNet will initiate its NEPA review process at the earliest 
practicable time.

[[Page 1367]]

Scoping

    FirstNet shall comply with scoping procedures described in 40 CFR 
1501.7 required for proposed actions normally requiring an EA with 
scoping or an EIS. FirstNet may also require scoping procedures to be 
followed for other proposed actions where appropriate to achieve the 
purposes of NEPA. When evaluating the type and extent of the NEPA 
documents and review appropriate for a proposed action, FirstNet shall:
    (a) Define the purpose and need of the proposed action;
    (b) Identify reasonably foreseeable impacts of the action to 
determine if consultation with other federal, state, local or tribal 
entities is needed;
    (c) Determine if other federal agency action is involved in the 
proposed action so lead and coordinating agencies can be established;
    (d) Identify or develop reasonable alternatives to the proposed 
action;
    (e) Consider the context and intensity of the potential direct, 
indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed 
action(s) and any reasonable or appropriate alternatives;
    (f) Consider mitigation measures or strategies to minimize, reduce, 
or eliminate environmental impacts of the proposed action(s), as 
necessary;

Public Involvement

    In carrying out its responsibilities under NEPA, FirstNet shall 
comply with the public involvement requirements described in 40 CFR 
1506.6 and make diligent efforts to involve the public in the 
environmental review process. In addition, FirstNet shall:
    (a) Ensure that all public notices relating to environmental 
matters shall describe the nature, location, and extent of the proposed 
action and indicate the availability and location of additional 
information relating to the matter.
    (b) Determine the appropriate medium for publishing notices 
relating to environmental matters on a project-by-project basis.
    (c) Assess and consider public comments both individually and 
collectively and ensure that responses to public comments are appended 
to the applicable environmental document, as appropriate.
    (d) Make available to the public those project-related 
environmental documents that FirstNet determines will enhance public 
participation in the environmental process. These materials shall be 
placed in locations convenient for the public as determined by 
FirstNet.
    (e) Hold public hearings or meetings at reasonable times and 
locations concerning environmental aspects of a proposed action in all 
cases where, in the opinion of FirstNet, the need for hearings or 
meetings is indicated in order to develop adequate information on the 
environmental implications of the proposed action. Public hearings or 
meetings conducted by FirstNet will be coordinated to the extent 
practicable with other meetings, hearings, and environmental reviews 
which may be held or required by other Federal, state and local 
agencies.

General Requirements for Categorical Exclusions

    FirstNet actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a 
significant effect on the human environment and where no extraordinary 
circumstances exist may be categorically excluded from further 
environmental review in an EA or EIS.
    (a) The approved list of FirstNet actions that normally qualify for 
a CE are listed in Appendix C.
    (b) FirstNet actions that would normally be categorically excluded 
from further environmental review but due to the existence of 
extraordinary circumstances could have substantial environmental 
effects will require the preparation of an EA or EIS.
    (c) This list of extraordinary circumstances that could have 
substantial environmental effects is listed in Appendix D.
    (d) If a proposed action is determined to be a CE and not 
considered a routine administrative, personnel action, or procurement, 
FirstNet shall document its determination that a CE applies to a 
proposed action with a Record of Environmental Consideration.
    (e) The list of approved FirstNet CE's is subject to continual 
review and can be modified by amending/revising this Directive, in 
consultation with CEQ.
    (f) The use of a CE does not relieve FirstNet from compliance with 
other statutes or consultations under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) or the National Historic Preservation Act 
of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.). Such consultations may be required to 
determine the applicability of the CE screening criteria

General Requirements for an Environmental Assessment

    FirstNet shall prepare an EA as defined in 40 CFR 1508.9 for an 
action which FirstNet determines may have the potential for significant 
environmental impact. Actions normally requiring an EA include:
    (a) When a proposed action is not in a category of actions 
described in an available categorical exclusion and there is not enough 
information available to know that the proposed action will have 
significant environmental impacts, an EA will be prepared. In this 
situation, an EA process is used to determine, through environmental 
impact evaluation and opportunity for public involvement, if the 
impacts on the quality of the human environment are potentially 
significant.
    (b) A proposed action that is included in a category of actions 
described in a categorical exclusion, but extraordinary circumstances 
may present the potential for significant environmental impacts 
precluding the categorical exclusion, and there is a the lack of 
information to determine that the proposed action will have significant 
environmental impacts requiring preparation of an EA.
    (c) The Chair or a delegate can decide to prepare an EA as a best 
practice planning tool to inform decision makers on the environmental 
impacts of its actions.
    In preparing an EA, First shall:
    (a) Involve environmental agencies, applicants, and the public to 
the extent practicable.
    (b) Ensure the contents of an EA comply with the requirements of 40 
CFR 1508.9, and, at minimum, shall include:
    1. Sufficient evidence and analysis for FirstNet to determine 
whether to prepare an EIS or a FONSI, and facilitate preparation of 
said EIS, if needed;
    2. A brief discussion of the need for the action;
    3. A brief discussion of the environmental impacts of the proposed 
action and alternatives; and
    4. A listing of agencies and person consulted
    (c) Determine, based on an independent review of the EA, whether 
the proposed action will have a significant environmental impact. If 
FirstNet determines that the proposed action will not have a 
significant impact, FirstNet may issue a FONSI as described in 40 CFR 
1508.13. However, if, after review of the EA, FirstNet determines that 
the proposed action will have a significant environmental impact, 
FirstNet will proceed with the preparation of an EIS.

General Requirements for and Environmental Impact Statement

    FirstNet shall prepare an EIS when it determines that a proposed 
action significantly impacts the quality of the human environment or 
when the results of an EA indicate the proposed action will have 
significant impacts. Actions normally requiring the preparation of an 
EIS include:
    (a) Major federal actions found to cause significant effects on the 
human

[[Page 1368]]

environment which cannot be mitigated to a level of insignificance 
(identifiable at the start of the NEPA process or through the 
preparation of an EA).
    (b) Major federal actions occurring in the U.S. known to cause 
significant environmental effects on the global commons, such as the 
oceans or Antarctica, as described in EO 12114, Environmental Affects 
Abroad of Major Federal Actions.
    (c) Actions required by statute or treaty to develop an EIS.
    In preparing and EIS, FirstNet shall solicit public involvement and 
commenting as described in 40 CFR 1503.1-1503.4 after preparing a draft 
EIS and before preparing a final EIS. FirstNet shall also ensure the 
contents of an EIS contain the elements described in 40 CFR 1502.10-
1502.18 and, unless FirstNet determines that there is a compelling 
reason to do otherwise shall follow the standard EIS format and 
include:

1. Cover Sheet
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.11
2. Summary
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.12
3. Table of Contents
4. Purpose of and Need for Action
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.13
5. Discussion of Proposed Action and Alternatives
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.14
6. Description of the Affected Environment
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.15
7. Discussion of the Environmental Consequences of the Proposed Action
8. See 40 CFR 1502.16
9. List of Preparers
    i. See 40 CFR 1502.17
10. List of Agencies, Organizations, and Persons Consulted
11. Index and Appendices, as appropriate

    Finally, FirstNet shall prepare a concise public Record of Decision 
(ROD) in accordance with 40 CFR 1505.2.

Environmental Review and Consultation Requirements for NEPA Reviews

    To the fullest extent possible, FirstNet shall prepare NEPA reviews 
(i.e., CE, EA, EIS) concurrently with and integrated with environmental 
analyses and related surveys and studies required by the Fish and 
Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.), National Historic 
Preservation Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq., Endangered Species Act 
of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), E.O. No. 11990, Protection of 
Wetlands, and E.O. No. 11988, Floodplain Management, and other 
environmental review laws and executive orders.

Cumulative Impacts

    FirstNet NEPA analyses shall assess cumulative effects, which are 
the impacts on the environment resulting from the incremental impact of 
the action when added to other past, present, and reasonable 
foreseeable future actions (40 CFR 1508.7).

Environmental Justice

    FirstNet shall comply with Executive Order 12898, ``Federal Actions 
to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income 
Populations,'' and determine whether the proposed action will have a 
disproportionate impact on minority or low-income communities.

Environmental Determinations and Final Decisions

    The conclusion of the NEPA review process will result in one of the 
following environmental determinations or final decisions.
(a) Record of Environmental Consideration
    1. If a proposed action is determined to be a CE and not considered 
a routine administrative or personnel action, FirstNet shall document 
its determination that a CE applies to a proposed action with a 
memorandum to the file.
    2. A Record of Environmental Consideration is a brief memorandum 
that is kept in the administrative record and should cite the 
categorical exclusion used and show that the agency determined: (1) The 
action fits within the category of actions described in the categorical 
exclusions; and (2) there are no extraordinary circumstances that would 
preclude the project or proposed action from qualifying as a 
categorically excluded action.
(b) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
    1. An EA results in either the issuance of FONSI or a determination 
to prepare an EIS. A FONSI is a document (40 CFR 1508.13) that briefly 
states why an action (not otherwise excluded) will not significantly 
affect the environment.
    2. If the Chair or delegate determines, based on an independent 
review of the EA, that the proposed action will not have significant 
impact, FirstNet may issue a FONSI and proceed with the proposed 
action. However, if, after an independent review of the EA, it is 
determined by the Chair or a delegate that the proposed action will 
have a significant environmental impact, FirstNet will proceed with the 
preparation of an EIS.
(c) Record of Decision (ROD)
    1. When it is determined that an EIS is required, FirstNet's final 
decision relating to the proposed action will consider the 
environmental information provided in the EIS and require the 
preparation of an ROD. The ROD documents the final decision made and 
the basis for that decision. An ROD shall be prepared in accordance 
with 40 CFR 1505.2 for the final decision maker, whether the Chair or a 
delegate, for approval and signature.
    2. FirstNet's implementation of the proposed action may begin 
immediately after approval of the ROD.

Mitigation

    FirstNet, throughout the environmental review process, shall 
consider mitigation measures, as defined in 40 CFR 1508.20, to avoid or 
minimize environmental harm, where possible. In addition, the following 
actions will be taken to ensure proper implementation of mitigation 
measures:
    (a) FirstNet shall ensure a discussion of mitigation measures 
essential to render the impacts of the proposed action not significant 
be included in or referenced in the FONSI and the ROD prior to making a 
final environmental determination or decision relating the significant 
of the impacts.
    (b) FirstNet will not commit to mitigation measures considered or 
analyzed in environmental documentation if there are insufficient legal 
authorities, or it is not reasonable to foresee the availability of 
sufficient resources to perform or ensure the performance of the 
mitigation.
    (c) Prior to and during the implementation of the action, FirstNet 
shall monitor project activities to ensure the proper execution of any 
mitigation measures or other conditions established and committed to in 
environmental documentation, as appropriate.
    (d) If mitigation commitments made in NEPA and decision documents 
fail to achieve projected environmental outcomes and there is remaining 
federal action, FirstNet may utilize an adaptive management approach 
and take corrective actions to identify alternatives that could take 
the place of original mitigation commitments and provided the intended 
environmental result.

Tiering

    FirstNet shall tier environmental documents to eliminate repetitive 
discussions of the same issues and to focus on the actual issues ripe 
for decision at each level of environmental

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review, as appropriate (see 40 CFR 1508.28). When a broad EIS has been 
prepared, FirstNet need only summarize the issues discussed in the 
broader environmental document, incorporate discussions from the 
broader environmental document by reference, and therefore concentrate 
on issues specific to the subsequent action.

Supplemental Environmental Documentation

    FirstNet may prepare supplements to either the draft or final 
environmental documentation if:
    (a) FirstNet makes substantial changes in the proposed action that 
are relevant to environmental concerns; or
    (b) There are significant new circumstances or information relevant 
to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its 
impacts.
    (c) FirstNet is relying upon an environmental review previously 
performed by another federal agency, with authority over the action or 
related activity of an applicant and (I) additional analysis is needed 
to address the reasonably foreseeable impacts of the action under 
consideration by FirstNet or (II) it adequately addresses the 
reasonably foreseeable impacts of the action under consideration by 
FirstNet.

Emergencies

    FirstNet may implement an emergency NEPA process after determining 
there is a need for taking action that does not allow for time for the 
regular NEPA process and complying with NEPA. This section applies only 
if the NEPA Coordinator, in consultation with FirstNet General Counsel, 
determines that an emergency exists that makes it necessary to take 
urgently needed actions before preparing a NEPA analysis and 
documentation in accordance with the provisions in subparts D and E of 
this part.
    (a) The NEPA Coordinator may take those actions necessary to 
control the immediate impacts of the emergency that are urgently needed 
to mitigate imminent harm to life, property, or important natural, 
cultural, or historic resources. When taking such actions, the 
Responsible Official shall take into account the probable environmental 
consequences of these actions and mitigate foreseeable adverse 
environmental effects to the extent practical.
    (b) The NEPA Coordinator or designee shall document in writing the 
determination that an emergency exists and describe the responsive 
action(s) taken at the time the emergency exists. The form of that 
documentation is within the discretion of the Responsible Official.
    (c) If the NEPA Coordinator determines that proposed actions taken 
in response to an emergency, beyond actions noted in paragraph (a) of 
this section, are not likely to have significant environmental impacts, 
the NEPA Coordinator or designee shall document that determination in 
an environmental assessment and a FONSI prepared in accordance with 
this part, unless categorically excluded. If the NEPA Coordinator finds 
that the nature and scope of the subsequent actions related to the 
emergency require taking such proposed actions prior to completing an 
EA and a FONSI, the NEPA Coordinator shall consult with the General 
Counsel about alternative arrangements for NEPA compliance. The NEPA 
Coordinator or designee may grant an alternative arrangement. Any 
alternative arrangement must be documented and notice of its use 
provided to CEQ.
    (d) The NEPA Coordinator shall consult with CEQ about alternative 
arrangements as soon as possible if the Responsible Official determines 
that proposed actions taken in response to an emergency are likely to 
have significant environmental impacts. Such alternative arrangements 
will apply only to the proposed actions necessary to control the 
immediate impacts of the emergency. Other proposed actions remain 
subject to NEPA analysis and documentation in accordance with this 
part.

1.08 Effective Date

    The effective date for the FirstNet NEPA implementation procedures 
is to be determined after the comment period.

Appendix A

List of Authorities

    (a) Statutes and Regulations that should be considered during 
the development of a NEPA review should include, but not be limited 
to:
    1. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.
    2. CEQ Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of 
the National Environmental Policy Act, as codified at 40 CFR Parts 
1500--1508.
    3. Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.
    4. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.
    5. National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 16 U.S.C. 470 et 
seq.
    6. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.
    7. Clean Air Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.
    8. Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.
    9. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.
    10. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.
    11. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. 31 et seq.
    12. River and Harbors Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. 401 and 403.
    (b) Executive Orders that should be considered during the 
development of a NEPA review should include, but not be limited to:
    1. E.O. No. 11988, Floodplain Management.
    2. E.O. No. 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal 
Actions.
    3. E.O. No. 11990, Protection of Wetlands.
    4. E.O. No. 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental 
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.
    5. E.O. No. 13112, Invasive Species.
    6. E.O. No. 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian 
Tribal Governments.
    7. E.O. No. 13186, Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to 
Protect Migratory Birds.
    (c) CEQ Guidance Documents that should be considered during the 
development of a NEPA review should include, but not be limited to:
    1. ``Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies: 
Improving the Process for Preparing Efficient and Timely 
Environmental Reviews Under the National Environmental Policy Act'' 
(CEQ, 2012).
    2. ``Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies: 
Appropriate Use of Mitigation and Monitoring and Clarifying the 
Appropriate Use of Mitigated Findings of No Significant Impact'' 
(CEQ, 2011).
    3. ``Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies: 
Establishing, Applying, and Revising Categorical Exclusions Under 
the National Environmental Policy Act'' (CEQ, 2010).
    4. ``Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies: 
Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act'' (CEQ, 2010).
    5. ``Aligning National Environmental Policy Act Processes with 
Environmental Management Systems'' (CEQ/NEPA Task Force, 2007).
    6. ``Collaboration in NEPA: A Handbook for NEPA Practitioners'' 
(CEQ/NEPA Task Force, 2007).
    7. ``Memorandum for Federal NEPA Contacts: Emergency Actions and 
NEPA'' (CEQ, 2005).
    8. ``Memorandum for Federal NEPA Contacts: Emergency Actions and 
NEPA, Appendix 2: Preparing Focused, Concise and Timely 
Environmental Assessments'' (CEQ, 2005).
    9. ``Guidance on the Consideration of Past Actions in Cumulative 
Effects Analysis'' (CEQ, 2005).
    10. ``Modernizing NEPA Implementation'' (CEQ/NEPA Task Force, 
2003).
    11. ``CEQ Memorandum for Deputy/Assistant Heads of Federal 
Agencies: Identifying Non-Federal Cooperating Agencies in 
Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act'' (CEQ, 2000).
    12. ``CEQ Memorandum for Heads of Federal Agencies: Designation 
of Non-

[[Page 1370]]

Federal Agencies to be Cooperating Agencies in Implementing the 
Procedural Requirements of NEPA'' (CEQ, 1999).
    13. ``Considering Cumulative Effects Under the National 
Environmental Policy Act'' (CEQ, 1997).
    14. ``Environmental Justice: Guidance Under the National 
Environmental Policy Act'' (CEQ, 1997).
    15. ``CEQ Guidance on NEPA Analyses for Transboundary Impacts'' 
(CEQ, 1997).
    16. ``Memorandum to Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies 
Regarding Pollution Prevention and the National Environmental Policy 
Act'' (CEQ, 1993).
    17. ``Incorporating Biodiversity Considerations into 
Environmental Impact Analysis Under the National Environmental 
Policy Act'' (CEQ, 1993).
    18. ``CEQ Guidance Regarding NEPA Regulations'' (CEQ, 1983).
    19. ``Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ's NEPA 
Regulations'' (CEQ, 1981).
    20. ``Guidance on Applying Section 404(r) of the Clean Water Act 
to Federal Projects Which Involve the Discharge of Dredged or Fill 
Materials into Waters of the U.S., Including Wetlands'' (CEQ, 1980).
    21. ``Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions, 
Executive Order 12114; Implementing and Explanatory Documents'' 
(CEQ, 1979).
    22. ``CEQ Memorandum for Heads of Agencies: Implementation of 
Executive Order 11988 on Floodplain Management and Executive Order 
11990 on Protection of Wetlands'' (CEQ, 1978).
    23. ``Environmental Review Pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the 
Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and its Relationship to NEPA'' (CEQ, 
1976).

Appendix B

Glossary

    All terminology and definitions contained in 40 CFR Parts 1500-
1508 are incorporated into this Directive. The following definitions 
are provided for other terms and phrases used.
    (a) Applicant. Any party who may apply to FirstNet for a Federal 
permit, funding, or other approval or any party proposing such an 
action. Any application should be accompanied by an explanation of 
the expected or reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts, 
identify, as appropriate, alternatives to the action and provide 
supporting documentation. Depending on the program, the applicant 
can be an individual, a private organization, or a Federal, state, 
tribal, or territorial government body.
    (b) Chair of the Board. Member of the FirstNet Board selected by 
the Secretary of Commerce to serve Chair of the Board for FirstNet.
    (c) Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Organization with 
the Executive Office of the President charged with monitoring 
progress toward achieving the national environmental goals as set 
forth in NEPA. The CEQ promulgates regulations governing the NEPA 
process for all Federal agencies.
    (d) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A detailed written 
statement prepared by an agency if a proposed action significantly 
impacts the quality of the human environment. The decision to 
prepare an EIS is based on the Agency's determination that the 
potential impacts are significant or the results of an EA indicate 
significant impacts. An EIS should include discussions of the 
purpose of and need for the action, alternatives, the affected 
environment, the environmental consequences of the proposed action, 
lists of preparers, agencies involved, response to any public 
comments received, organizations and persons to whom the statement 
is sent, an index, and an appendix (if any). An EIS is prepared in 
two stages: a draft and a final. Either stage of an EIS may be 
supplemented.
    (e) Environmental Review. This term refers to the NEPA process 
which includes: (1) identifying and scoping issues related to the 
proposed action; (2) determining the necessary steps for NEPA 
compliance and preparing the NEPA review (CE, EA, or EIS); and (3) 
making decisions that are based on understanding the environmental 
consequences of the proposed action.
    (f) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). A short NEPA 
document that presents the reasons why an action will not have a 
significant impact on the quality of the human environment and, 
therefore, will not require the preparation of an EIS. A FONSI must 
be supported by an EA, and must include, summarize, attach or 
incorporate by reference the EA. (40 CFR 1508.13).
    (g) FirstNet General Manager. Individual responsible for 
implementing the policies and strategies approved by the FirstNet 
Board, and overseeing all of the day-to-day operations of FirstNet.
    (h) Mitigation. Measures taken to allow the proposed action to: 
avoid environmental impacts altogether; minimize impacts by limiting 
the degree or magnitude of the action; rectify the impact by 
repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; 
reduce or eliminate the impact over time by preservation; and/or 
compensate for the impact.
    (i) NEPA Coordinator. Individual responsible for coordinating 
and overseeing FirstNet's compliance with NEPA.
    (j) NEPA Document. An EA, FONSI, draft, supplemental draft, or 
final EIS, Record of Decision (ROD), or memorandum documenting the 
application of CE.
    (k) Project. A Federal action such as a grant, contract, loan, 
loan guarantee, vessel capacity reduction program, land acquisition, 
construction project, license, permit, modification, regulation, or 
research program that involves FirstNet's review, approval, 
implementation, or other administrative action.
    (l) Record of Decision (ROD). A pubic document signed by the 
agency decision maker following the completion of an EIS. The ROD 
states the decision, alternatives considered, the environmentally 
preferable alternative(s), factors considered in the agency 
decision, mitigation measures that will be implemented, and whether 
the practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have 
been adopted (40 CFR 1505.2).
    (m) Supplemental Environmental Documents. A document prepared to 
amend an original NEPA document when there is a significant change 
in the action proposed beyond the scope of the original 
environmental review or when circumstances or information arise that 
could affect the proposed action and its environmental impacts (40 
CFR 1502.9(c)).

Appendix C

Categorical Exclusions

    A.1: The issuance of bulletins and information publications that 
do not concern environmental matters or substantial facility design, 
construction, or maintenance practices.
    A.2: Procurement activities related to the operation of 
FirstNet.
    A.3: Personnel and Administrative Actions.
    A.4: Purchase of existing facilities or a portion thereof where 
use or operation will remain unchanged.
    A.5: Internal modifications or equipment additions (e.g., 
computer facilities, relocating interior walls) to structures or 
buildings.
    A.6: Construction of buried and aerial telecommunications lines, 
cables, and related facilities.
    A.7: Construction of microwave facilities involving no more than 
five acres (2 hectares) of physical disturbance at any single site.
    A.8: Construction of cooperative or company headquarters, 
maintenance facilities, or other buildings involving no more than 10 
acres (4 hectares) of physical disturbance or fenced property.
    A.9: Changes to existing transmission lines that involve less 
than 20 percent pole replacement, or the complete rebuilding of 
existing distribution lines within the same right of way. Changes to 
existing transmission lines that require 20 percent or greater pole 
replacement will be considered the same as new construction.
    A.10: Changes or additions to existing substations, switching 
stations, telecommunications switching or multiplexing centers, or 
external changes to buildings or small structures requiring one acre 
(0.4 hectare) or more but no more than five acres (2 hectares) of 
new physically disturbed land or fenced property.
    A.11: Construction of substations, switching stations, or 
telecommunications switching or multiplexing centers requiring no 
more than five acres (2 hectares) of new physically disturbed land 
or fenced property.
    A.12: Changes or additions to microwave sites, substations, 
switching stations, telecommunications switching or multiplexing 
centers, buildings, or small structures requiring new physical 
disturbance or fencing of less than one acre (0.4 hectare).
    A.13: Ordinary maintenance or replacement of equipment or small 
structures (e.g., line support structures, line transformers, 
microwave facilities, telecommunications remote switching and 
multiplexing sites).
    A.14: The construction of telecommunications facilities within 
the

[[Page 1371]]

fenced area of an existing substation, switching station, or within 
the boundaries of an existing electric generating facility site.
    A.15: Testing or monitoring work (e.g., soil or rock core 
sampling, monitoring wells, air monitoring).
    A.16: Studies and engineering undertaken to define proposed 
actions or alternatives sufficiently so that environmental effects 
can be assessed.
    A.17: Rebuilding of power lines or telecommunications cables 
where road or highway reconstruction requires the applicant to 
relocate the lines either within or adjacent to the new road or 
highway easement or right-of-way.
    A.18: Phase or voltage conversions, reconductoring or upgrading 
of existing electric distribution lines, or telecommunication 
facilities.
    A.19: Construction of standby diesel electric generators (one 
megawatt or less total capacity) and associated facilities, for the 
primary purpose of providing emergency power, at an existing 
applicant headquarters or district office, telecommunications 
switching or multiplexing site, or at an industrial, commercial, or 
agricultural facility served by the applicant.

Appendix D

Extraordinary Circumstances

    Extraordinary circumstances that preclude the use of a CE 
include:
    (a) Reasonable likelihood of significant impact on public health 
or safety.
    (b) Reasonable likelihood of significant environmental effects 
(direct, indirect, and cumulative).
    (c) Reasonable likelihood of effects on the environment that are 
highly uncertain, unique, or are scientifically controversial.
    (d) Reasonable likelihood of violating any federal, state, or 
local law or requirements imposed for the protection of the 
environment.
    (e) Reasonable likelihood of adversely affecting 
``environmentally sensitive'' resources, unless the impact has been 
resolved through another environmental process (e.g., CZMA, NHPA, 
CWA).
    Environmentally sensitive resources include:
    1. Proposed federally listed, threatened, or endangered species 
or their designated critical habitat.
    2. Properties listed or eligible for listing on the National 
Register of Historic Places.
    3. Areas having special designation or recognition such as prime 
or unique or agricultural lands; designated wilderness or wilderness 
study areas; wild and scenic rivers; National Historic Landmarks 
(designated by the Secretary of the Interior); 100-year floodplains; 
wetlands; sole source aquifers (potential sources of drinking 
water); National Wildlife Refuges; National Parks; areas of critical 
environmental concern; or other areas of high environmental 
sensitivity.
    (f) Reasonable likelihood of adversely impacting water quality, 
sole source aquifers, public water supply systems or state, local, 
or tribal water quality standards established under the Clean Water 
Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
    (g) Reasonable likelihood of effects on the quality of the 
environment that is highly controversial on environmental grounds. 
The term ``controversial'' means a substantial dispute exists as to 
the size, nature, or effect of the proposed action rather than to 
the existence of opposition to a proposed action, the effect of 
which is relatively undisputed.
    (h) Reasonable likelihood of a disproportionately high and 
adverse effect on low income or minority populations (see E.O. No. 
12898).
    (i) Limited access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites 
on Federal lands by Indian religious practitioners or significantly 
adversely affect the physical integrity of such sacred sites.
    (j) A greater scope or size than is normal for this category of 
action.
    (k) Reasonable likelihood of degrading already existing poor 
environmental conditions. Also, initiation of a degrading influence, 
activity, or effect in areas not already significantly modified from 
their natural condition.
    (l) Introduction or employment of unproven technology.

[FR Doc. 2013-31495 Filed 1-7-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-60-P