[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 110 (Tuesday, June 9, 1998)]
[Pages 31453-31455]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-15328]



Department of the Navy

Record of Decision and General Conformity Determination for 
Realignment of E-2 Squadrons From Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) 
Miramar, California

AGENCY: Department of the Navy, DOD.

ACTION: Notice of Record of Decision.


SUMMARY: The Department of the Navy, after carefully weighing the 
operational, environmental, and cost implications of relocating E-2 
aircraft from MCAS Miramar to other Naval installations, announces its 
decision to realign four E-2 squadrons to Naval Air Weapons Station 
(NAWS) Point Mugu, California.

Ms. Kelly K. Knight, Southwest Division, Naval Facilities Engineering 
Command (Code 553.KK), 1220 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92132, 
telephone (619) 532-2456.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The text of the entire Record of Decision is 
provided as follows:
    The Department of the Navy (DON), pursuant to the Defense Base 
Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (10 U.S.C. 2687), section 102(2)(C) 
of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4331 
et seq.), and the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality 
that implement NEPA procedures (40 CFR part 1500-1508), hereby 
announces its decision to realign 16 E-2 aircraft, relocate 988 
military and civilian personnel with their families, expand and 
construct facilities to support aircraft and personnel, and provide 
associated training functions at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) Point 
Mugu, California. The realignment to NAWS Point Mugu was identified as 
the Preferred Alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement 
    To support the additional personnel and operation and maintenance 
of the E-2 aircraft, eight construction projects, primarily consisting 
of modification or expansion of existing facilities, are required at 
NAWS Point Mugu.
    Realignment of the E-2 squadrons will increase aircraft operations 
at NAWS Point Mugu. However, as these E-2 squadrons will continue to 
use the E-2 training ranges, including the Southern California 
Operations Area, there will be no increase in aircraft operations on 
the ranges.
    Pursuant to section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 
7476(c)), the DON has determined that the realignment of the E-2 
aircraft to NAWS Point Mugu conforms to California's State 
Implementation Plan for Ventura County. There were no comments on the 
draft conformity determination published as Appendix D to the FEIS. The 
final conformity determination is being distributed concurrent with the 
    Realignment of the E-2 aircraft and operational functions will 
begin in July 1998 and should be completed in January 1999.


    The 1993 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) 
recommended the realignment of MCAS El Toro and MCAS Tustin to NAS 
Miramar. The Commission also recommended that the squadrons and related 
activities at NAS Miramar would move to other naval air stations, 
primarily NAS Lemoore and NAS Fallon in order to make room for the 
relocation of MCAS El Toro squadrons.
    In 1995, the BRAC Commission revised the 1993 BRAC Commission 
recommendations as follows: ``Change the receiving sites for squadrons 
and related activities at NAS Miramar specified by the 1993 Commission 
(BRAC Commission 1993) from NAS Lemoore and NAS Fallon to other naval 
air stations, primarily NAS Oceana, Virginia, NAS North Island, 
California, and NAS Fallon, Nevada.''
    As the 1995 BRAC Commission did not recommend realignment of NAS 
Miramar aircraft to a specific base, the DON conducted a multi-stage 
screening process to identify reasonable and feasible alternatives for 
realignment of Pacific Fleet E-2 aircraft to a west coast Naval air 
station. Other Navy aircraft stationed at NAS Miramar have already been 
realigned under separate NEPA actions.


    A Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on May 1, 
1996, announcing that the DON would prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) which would analyze the environmental effects of the E-
2 realignment and associated facilities construction.
    The DON published a Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS (DEIS) 
in the Federal Register and local newspapers on November 21, 1997. 
Three public hearings were held in the cities of El Centro, Oxnard, and 
Lemoore, CA, between December 8, and December 10, 1997, to solicit 
comments on the DEIS. A total of 30 individuals, agencies, and 
organizations submitted written comments on the DEIS. The FEIS 
addressed all oral and written comments.
    The DON published a Notice of Availability of the FEIS and a draft 
Final CAA Conformity Determination in the Federal Register and local 
newspapers on April 17, 1998. The DON received 13 comment letters 
during the 30-day public review period. Substantive comments are 
addressed later in this ROD.

Alternatives Considered

    The DON conducted a screening process, based upon criteria set out 
in the DEIS, to identify a reasonable range of alternatives that would 
satisfy the

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Navy's purpose and need. Based upon that screening process, the DON 
analyzed the environmental impacts of the realignment and associated 
construction at NAWS Point Mugu, NAS Lemoore, and NAF El Centro.
    Although initially identified as a potential realignment location, 
NAS North Island was eliminated from further consideration in 
recognition of Clean Air Act requirements associated with the Marine 
Corps realignment to MCAS Miramar.
    The DON evaluated operational, logistical, and personnel 
requirements, environmental impacts and costs at each of the 
alternative locations. Based upon this comparative analysis, the DON 
identified NAWS Point Mugu as the preferred alternative.
    The environmentally preferred alternative is the realignment of E-2 
assets and personnel to NAS Lemoore because all impacts, other than 
those to schools, would be less than significant. Impacts to schools 
would be significant but mitigable if the schools system successfully 
competed for federal impact aid payments.

Environmental Impacts

    The DON analyzed the potential impacts of the proposed action at 
NAWS Point Mugu (Preferred Alternative), NAS Lemoore, and NAF El Centro 
for effects on biological resources, hydrology/surface water quality, 
land use and airspace, socioeconomics, traffic and circulation, air 
quality, noise, aesthetics and visual resources, utilities and 
services, cultural resources, public health and safety, and hazardous 
materials and wastes. The DON also considered whether the proposed 
action would be consistent with federal policies addressing 
environmental justice and environmental health risks to children.
    This Record of Decision focuses on the significant impacts that 
will result from realignment of the E-2 aircraft to NAWS Point Mugu. 
The Preferred Alternative creates the potential for significant impacts 
on air quality, schools, and cultural resources at NAWS Point Mugu. 
Impacts on all other resources or functions analyzed in the FEIS were 
less than significant.

Air Quality

    Emission sources under DON control will result in incremental 
emission increases that exceed the 25-ton-per-year de minimis threshold 
for ozone precursors (reactive organic compounds and nitrogen oxides) 
in Ventura County. The DON completed a conformity determination under 
section 176(c) of the Clean Air Act and EPA's implementing regulations 
demonstrating that the projected increases in emissions of ozone 
precursors conforms with the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for 
Ventura County. Significant reductions have occurred in activity levels 
at NAWS Point Mugu since 1990 that are not reflected in the emission 
forecasts used in the 1994 ozone SIP for Ventura County. Thus, actual 
emission reductions at NAWS Point Mugu between 1990 and 1996 can be 
considered surplus emission reductions that have not already been used 
in the SIP for demonstrating attainment of the federal ozone standard. 
Since actual post-1990 emission reductions at NAWS Point Mugu exceed 
the actual emissions associated with the E-2 realignment action, 
emissions at NAWS Point Mugu will remain within the emission budgets 
contained in the 1994 ozone SIP for Ventura County. Additionally, 
growth allowances included in the regional air quality plan accommodate 
most, if not all, of the remaining emission increases. As part of this 
realignment decision, I approve the CAA Conformity Determination 
included in Appendix D of the FEIS.


    Approximately 116 school children will be added to Ventura County 
schools in 1998-99 with the realignment of the E-2 squadrons to NAWS 
Point Mugu. Another 37 school children from support activities will be 
added to Ventura County schools in 1999-2000. All affected schools in 
Ventura County are operating over design and expansion capacity, 
therefore even this small increase in student population will 
exacerbate the existing adverse situation.

Cultural Resources

    Prehistoric subsurface deposits which are potentially eligible for 
the National Register of Historic Preservation may be disturbed or 
destroyed during construction activities at NAWS Point Mugu.



    School districts may be eligible for federal funding which aids 
local school districts in the education of military children. Schools 
must apply for impact aid, and funds are paid directly by the 
Department of Education. the DON will assist, to the extent 
practicable, affected schools in their pursuit for federal impact aid. 
Implementation of this mitigation may reduce the level of impact to one 
that is less than significant. However, mitigation may not fully 
compensate school districts for the cost of education.

Cultural Resources

    Any contract, lease, or permit for construction at NAWS Point Mugu 
in conjunction with the implementation of the proposed action will 
include a requirement to halt work in the event of a discovery of 
archaeological materials. In such an event, the Contracting Officer 
will be notified immediately, and the NAWS Point Mugu archaeologist 
will document and evaluate the resource before work in the discovery 
area continues. Implementation of this mitigation measure will reduce 
the impact to a less than significant level.

Response to Comments Received Regarding the Final Environmental 
Impact Statement

    The DON received comments on the FEIS from two federal agencies, 
two state agencies, six local agencies, two citizen groups and one 
individual. Substantive comments are addressed below.


    The Environmental Protection Agency requested more details on the 
baseline conditions at the Naval activities. The FEIS provided 
sufficient information to allow the decision maker and the public to 
identify the impacts of the proposed action.


    One commenter stated the DON must pay a local Traffic Mitigation 
Fee for cumulative traffic impacts within Ventura County. The DON has 
no legal authority to pay this fee.


    One commentor requested that DON conduct noise monitoring in 
adjacent communities. The noise modeling analyses presented in the FEIS 
are based on standard procedures widely used for commercial and 
military airfields. These procedures have been validated and are 
sufficient to predict the resultant noise levels in the NAWS Point Mugu 
vicinity from the additional aircraft operations.

Utilities and Services

    One commentor expressed concern that the potential impacts to 
schools would be completely mitigated by federal payments to the school 
districts. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is the federal agency 
responsible for providing funds to school districts who educate large 
numbers of military children.

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    It is reasonable to expect that DOE will provide a portion of the 
cost for the military children's education. The precise dollar amount 
of the impacts cannot be calculated until the students are actually 
enrolled in the schools and the school district files an official 
application to DOE for receipt of impact aid funds.

Public Health and Safety

    One commentor expressed concern that during Santa Ana wind 
conditions, the accident potential over the cities of Oxnard, 
Camarillo, and Port Hueneme would increase. The Air Installation 
Compatibility Use Zone Program included Santa Ana conditions in the 
calculations for the Accident Potential Zones (``APZs'') shown in the 
FEIS. The APZs identified for Runway 03/21 mainly encompass 
agricultural land with the exception of the Naval Air Mobile Home Park.
Hazardous Material and Wastes
    One commentor expressed concerns regarding the proportional 
increased risk of fuel spills from E-2 aircraft fuel handling. Spill 
prevention is an inherent part of NAWS Point Mugu fueling operations. 
All personnel who handle hazardous materials and wastes participate in 
a quarterly training update and are provided specific spill response 
guidance for their work areas.


    In deciding where to realign E-2 aircraft from MCAS Miramar, I 
considered the following: the 1995 BRAC Commission recommendations; E-2 
operational requirements; costs associated with construction of 
facilities, operation and maintenance of aircraft, and training of 
personnel; environmental impacts; and the comments received during the 
DEIS and FEIS review periods.
    After carefully weighing all of these factors, I have decided, on 
behalf of the Department of the Navy, to direct realignment of four 
Pacific Fleet E-2 squadrons to NAWS Point Mugu. Environmental impacts 
are slightly more than the NAS Lemoore and NAF El Centro alternatives; 
however, the NAWS Point Mugu alternative is operationally preferred 
because of close proximity to operating areas, is the least expensive 
alternative and it fully uses excess capacity at NAWS Point Mugu.
    Implementation of the Naws Point Mugu alternative will result in 
significant but manageable impacts to air quality and schools. 
Potentially significant adverse impacts to cultural resources will be 
mitigated to less than significant levels. The DON will implement the 
mitigation measures identified in this Record of Decision.

    Dated: June 2, 1998.
Duncan Holaday,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities).
[FR Doc. 98-15328 Filed 6-8-98; 8:45 am]