Pursuant to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) determined that an environmental impact statement (EIS) was necessary to assess the potential impacts of the proposed West Plains Mixed-Use Development Project.
The EIS was completed in accordance with applicable requirements, including those set out in NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing NEPA (40 CFR Sections 1500 – 1508); and the BIA’s NEPA Guidebook (59 IAM 3-H).
The NEPA process is intended to ensure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and actions are taken. The purpose of the EIS is to document the environmental, social and economic consequences of constructing and operating the proposed project. The EIS will:
- Provides site-specific environmental analysis for proposed project alternatives;
- Describes, analyze and disclose the various biological, physical, social and economic impacts that proposed project alternatives would generate;
- Identifes, where possible, the long-term impacts and secondary effects of the proposed project alternatives;
- Indicates possible mitigation measures which may be used to avoid or reduce impacts; and
- Provides a comprehensive, reliable document for review and evaluation by interested public agencies, groups and individuals and for use as a basis for decision-making.
The EIS identifies and objectively evaluates a reasonable range of alternatives, including a reduced intensity alternative, a non-gaming alternative, and a no action/no development alternative. The range of alternatives analyzed was based upon public and agency scoping. The BIA identified the Proposed Project (Alternative 1) as the preferred alternative in the Final EIS.
The first step in the EIS process is scoping. Scoping is the process to determine the scope of the environmental analysis to be conducted. It is used early in the NEPA process to identify: (1) issues to be addressed; (2) the depth of analysis; (3) alternatives to the proposed action; and (4) potential positive and negative impacts of the proposed action.
The notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2009. This initiated a 45-day scoping period.
A 45-day public comment period on the Draft EIS was initiated with publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on Friday, March 2nd. The comment period for the Draft EIS was extended by the BIA and closed on May 16, 2012.
The Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Final EIS was published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2013. The review period for the Final EIS was extended by the BIA to May 1, 2013. The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs signed the Record of Decision (ROD) on June 15, 2015.