[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 97 (Monday, May 20, 2013)]
[Pages 29336-29338]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11850]



Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers

Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Arctic 
Deep Draft Ports Navigation Improvements Feasibility Study

AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announces its 
intention to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to study 
the feasibility of improving the navigation infrastructure in the 
vicinity of Norton Sound and the Bering Strait with a focus on existing 
infrastructure at Nome, possible infrastructure at Cape Riley near 
Teller, and improved infrastructure at Point Spencer at Port Clarence, 
Alaska. This study will be performed through a partnership between 
USACE and the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation. The 
existing infrastructure in this region of Alaska is presently not 
capable of meeting existing or anticipated navigation demands for 
multinational, Federal, state, and local interests. Of particular 
concern in this region is the ability to provide a systematic approach 
to meeting navigation requirements in this region in response to a 
changing climate and thus an increasing need for environmentally and 
responsibly planned infrastructure. The EIS will address the potential 
for positive and negative environmental impacts of construction, 
operation, and maintenance of marine infrastructure serving the Norton 
Sound and Bering Strait region. USACE will hold scoping meetings in 
Nome and Teller, Alaska, in an effort to better define the issues 
associated with navigation in this region of Alaska. Teleconferencing 
or VTC will be set up as available to accommodate stakeholders unable 
to be present at the scoping meetings. Scoping will be

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ongoing throughout the feasibility study process.

DATES: A scoping meeting will be held in Nome and Teller, Alaska the 
second week in June. A summary of comments received as a result of 
scoping meetings held in June will be forwarded to participants as 
requested. Scoping meetings will be advertised in local newspapers as 

ADDRESSES: Please direct comments or suggestions on the scope of the 
EIS to: Mr. Michael Salyer, NEPA Coordinator, U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, Alaska District, EN-G-ER, P.O. Box 6898, Joint Base 
Elmendorf-Richardson, AK 99506-0898; Phone: 907-753-2690; Fax: (907) 
753-2625, email [email protected] (please use ``NOI 
Comments; Environmental Impact Statement for Arctic Deep Draft Ports 
Navigation Improvements Feasibility Study).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information or questions 
concerning the proposed project, contact: Ms. Lorraine Cordova, Plan 
Formulator, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, PM-C-PL, 
P.O. Box 6898, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK 99506-0898; Phone: 
907-753-5619; Fax: (907) 753-2625; email: 
[email protected].



    The study area is part of the Seward Peninsula on the western coast 
of Alaska and includes the general area of Nome/Port Clarence and 
Teller. Currently, Nome serves as the supply, service, and 
transportation center for the Bering Strait region. Nome cannot meet 
the existing demand for maritime infrastructure, while demand on that 
infrastructure continues to increase. Commerce, safety, national 
security and oil spill response capability have already been identified 
as issues needing to be addressed in the United States as an Arctic 

Purpose and Need for Agency Action

    The purpose of this study is to identify a practicable and 
environmentally responsible solution to meeting the existing and future 
maritime infrastructure needs in the Bering Sea Region and possibly the 
United States Arctic. The existing maritime infrastructure in the 
vicinity of Nome is not adequate to accommodate the need for an 
efficient and safe harbor appropriate to current vessel traffic in the 
Arctic Region of the United States. The State of Alaska, Department of 
Transportation is working with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in 
investigating the need for expanding the existing maritime 
infrastructure within the Bering Sea Region. This region of Alaska has 
been identified as having the potential for improving the northern-
most, naturally occurring deep water port. At present, the region does 
not appropriately and safely accommodate the needs of maritime users 
already located at or transiting the area.
    This project was authorized by general language in Section 5007 of 
Public Law 119-114, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.
    The Study Authority is the House Public Works Committee Resolution 
for Rivers and Harbors in Alaska, adopted December 2, 1970. The 
resolution states:
    ``Resolved by the Committee on Public Works of the House of 
Representatives, United States, that the Board of Engineers for Rivers 
and Harbors is hereby requested to review the reports of the Chief of 
Engineers on Rivers and Harbors in Alaska, published as House Document 
Numbered 414, 83rd Congress, 2nd Session; and other pertinent reports, 
with a view to determining whether any modifications of the 
recommendations contained herein are advisable at the present time.''
    This EIS will assess the potential environmental impacts of 
constructing, operating, and maintaining existing and possibly new 
navigation infrastructure in the Norton Sound and Bering Strait Region. 
The EIS will aid decision making on the Arctic Deep Draft Ports study 
by evaluating the environmental impacts of the range of reasonable 
alternatives, as well as providing a means for public input into the 
decision making process. USACE is committed to ensuring that the public 
has ample opportunity to participate in this review.

Preliminary Alternatives

    Consistent with NEPA implementation requirements, this EIS will 
assess the range of reasonable alternatives regarding constructing, 
operating, maintaining, and funding a proposed project that results 
from the study. The following types of alternatives have been 
identified for the region and are subject to modification in response 
to comments received during the public scoping process.
    Structural Alternatives: This set of alternatives will investigate 
and describe possible harbor construction or improvement alternatives. 
Types of structural solutions could include, but are not limited to, 
rubble mound breakwaters, dredging, Search and Rescue infrastructure, 
disaster response infrastructure, mooring basins, modified entrance 
channels, navigation aids, etc.
    Nonstructural Alternatives: Nonstructural alternatives could 
include, but are not limited to, solutions like traffic management and 
Port Authority establishment.
    No Action Alternative: Under the ``no action'' alternative, the 
Norton Sound Region would continue to encounter the haphazard 
navigation scenario that presently exists in a challenging maritime 
environment associated with the Bering Sea and other Arctic waters.
    USACE would appreciate comments regarding whether there are 
additional alternatives for the Environmental Impact Statement for 
Arctic Deep Draft Ports Navigation Improvements Feasibility Study that 
should be considered.

Identification of Environmental and Other Issues

    USACE intends to address the following environmental issues when 
assessing the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives in 
this EIS. Additional issues may be identified as a result of the 
scoping process. USACE invites comment from Federal agencies; state, 
local, and tribal governments; and the general public on these and any 
other issues that should be considered in the EIS:
     Potential impacts on health from the existing usage of the 
area by transiting and local vessels.
     Potential impacts on health, both positive and negative, 
as a result of project implementation.
     Potential impacts to workers during the construction of 
the facilities.
     Potential impacts to surface water, tidelands and fauna 
including turbidity from construction activities.
     Potential impacts on air quality from emissions and from 
noise during construction and operations.
     Potential cumulative impacts of the past, present, and 
reasonably foreseeable future actions including impacts resulting from 
activities foreign and domestic, multinational, Federal, state, and 
     Potential impacts to historically significant properties, 
if present, and on access to traditional use areas.
     Potential impacts on local, regional, or national 
resources from materials and utilities required for construction and 
     Potential impacts on ecological resources, including 
threatened and endangered species and water quality.
     Potential impacts on local employment, income, population, 
housing, and public services from harbor construction and operations.

[[Page 29338]]

NEPA Process

    The EIS for the proposed project will be prepared pursuant to the 
NEPA of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Council on Environmental Quality 
NEPA Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and USACE's NEPA 
Implementing Procedures (33 CFR parts 230 and 325). Following the 
publication of this Notice of Intent, USACE will continue the scoping 
process, prepare and distribute the draft EIS for public review, hold 
public meetings to solicit public comment on the draft EIS, and publish 
a final EIS. Not less than 30 days after the publication of the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability of the final 
EIS, USACE may issue a Record of Decision (ROD) documenting its 
decision concerning the proposed action.

EIS Schedule

    The draft EIS is scheduled to be published no sooner than December 
2013. A 45-day comment period on the draft EIS is planned, which will 
include public meetings to receive comments. Availability of the draft 
EIS, the dates of the public comment period, and information about 
public meetings will be announced in the Federal Register and in the 
local news media.
    The final EIS for the Environmental Impact Statement for Arctic 
Deep Draft Ports Navigation Improvements Feasibility Study is scheduled 
for no sooner than November 2014. A ROD would be issued no sooner than 
30 days after the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's notice of 
availability of the final EIS is published in the Federal Register.

Gregory Schmidt,
Deputy Chief, Engineering Division.
[FR Doc. 2013-11850 Filed 5-17-13; 8:45 am]