Re: Initial Study: North Coast Railroad Authority Russian River Division Freight Rail Project - July 10
Author: Rick T.
Date: 07-23-2007 - 15:27
As an environmental consultant (who is not involved in this project), let me clarify a few misconceptions about the Initial Study:
- Page 3-2 provides the critical piece of information: "...an Environmental Impact Report is required."
- As its name suggests, an "Initial Study" is a preliminary evaluation of the environmental effects of the project. More detailed analysis will be performed during the EIR process based on information contained in technical reports.
- The IS identified nine topical areas where potentially significant impacts may occur: air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology, hazards, hydrology, land use, noise, and transportation. The checked box by the mandatory findings of significance item signifies that one or more topical areas may be potentially significant.
- The IS will be circulated for public review and comment; however, it will not be revised based on any comments because the purpose of circulating it is to solicit input about the scope of the EIR review.
- The EIR will include an "Alternatives to the Proposed Project" section that will include a "No Project (status quo) Alternative" and a few other alternatives intended to avoid or reduce impacts caused by the proposed project. It will also identify an "Environmentally Superior Alternative." I should note that for all practical purposes, none of these alternatives will seriously be considered by the decision makers.
- At the very end of the process, the lead agency (in this case the NCRA) has the authority to adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations that states that the economic, social, technical, etc. benefits of the project outweigh any significant environmental impacts identified in the EIR.