An EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) is a detailed report describing the potential effects of a project on the environment, as described in the regulations of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508). The Circ-Williston EIS covered transportation improvements in the specific project area between I-89 and Williston, Essex, and Essex Junction. The Final EIS document can be found on the FINAL EIS Web page.
Why is an EIS needed?
The ultimate purpose of the EIS is to assist in decision making – “to help public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment “ (43 CFR 55990 Section 1500.1, CEQ Regulations.)
When is an EIS done?
An EIS is carried out for certain types of projects in response to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). NEPA applies to “proposed actions” -- development projects, legislation, and even policy decisions -- that are federally funded (or partially federally funded), licensed, or permitted. An EIS is the most thorough and comprehensive level of NEPA documentation.
What’s included in an EIS?
An EIS report includes physical, biological, and social elements in the project’s environment.
Who is responsible for the EIS on the Circ-Williston project?
VTrans (Vermont Agency of Transportation), and the Federal Highway Administration, are the lead agencies responsible for developing the EIS document. The Louis Berger Group has been hired as consultants to conduct the study. The Berger Group is nationally recognized as having expertise in the types of issues likely to be involved in the Circ-Williston EIS.
How is an EIS done?
An EIS report is conducted through a study
process that includes extensive coordination and information-sharing
among public officials and citizens about possible environmental
consequences, as well as scientific investigations into key
Are there regulations for how an EIS shall be done?
Yes. The federal Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and FHWA have regulations that describe when and how the NEPA process which guides the development of an EIS should be carried out. Follow the links for regulations: FHWA-DOT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND RELATED PROCEDURES and CEQ - Regulations for Implementing NEPA
How are the study objectives achieved?
EIS study objectives are achieved through interagency coordination and public participation in planning and project development, in addition to scientific study and analysis.
What agencies besides VTrans have a role in seeing that objectives are met?
The Circ-Williston EIS is being conducted by VTrans as the sponsoring agency and FHWA as the lead federal agency, with input and assistance from regional, state, and federal cooperating agencies: Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization and Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission; Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and Department of Agriculture; U.S. EPA, Corps of Engineers, Federal Transit Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The study is actively seeking input from the communities in and around Chittenden County and from environmental, business, transportation, and other stakeholder organizations.
What is the Five-Step Process for the Circ-Williston EIS?
Through every step of developing the EIS, the study team gathered information/input from agencies, communities, organizations, and citizens and looking squarely at the environmental consequences of the various alternatives. Follow this link to learn more about the five step EIS process.
What phase of the EIS are we currently in?
The final phase, step 5, which led to the Final EIS where a Preferred Alternative is identified, was completed in July 2010.
When and how can the public have a voice in developing the EIS?
The development of the EIS was an open process, in which the public was encouraged to participate throughout the study. Several public meetings and workshops were conducted during each phase of the evaluation of alternatives and development of the EIS. These included:
Two public information meetings on the Final EIS.
What is Environmental Streamlining and How Does It Affect the Circ-Williston EIS?
Environmental streamlining is a process that requires transportation and natural, cultural, and historic resource agencies to establish realistic timeframes for developing and reviewing projects, and then to work cooperatively to adhere to those timeframes. One federal agency, in this case FHWA, takes the lead role working cooperatively with other federal and state agencies during the entire transportation development process. This coordinated review process includes input from the public, as well as from other agencies, to guarantee that all environmental protections, as well as other issues, are addressed. A key element of Environmental Streamlining is communication with and the gathering of input from the public and stakeholders.