Where are we in the NEPA Process?
April 2, 2013
The scoping period for the Donlin Gold Proposed mining project ended on March 29, 2013. Georgetown submitted scoping comments that will be addressed along with the rest of the public’s comments in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Members of Georgetown Tribal Council met with the US Army Corps of Engineers on March 4, to discuss the project and questions regarding the environmental impacts of the project. As a result of this meeting and much research, GTC came up with a document of scoping comments to be addressed and submitted for their review.
Issues covered in GTC scoping comments included the impacts of the Jungjuk port construction and location, the natural gas pipeline, and increased barge traffic along the Kuskokwim, as well as some general comments and questions from members of Georgetown.
These comments were submitted to the Army Corps, who is the lead agency on the NEPA process. Under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps has 3 responsibilities – NEPA and EIS process, the determination of the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA)under 404 b1 guidelines, and the Public Interest Review.
The EIS is the primary document used to make decisions about permit issuance.
It is important to distinguish between them and Donlin. Donlin Gold is the one hoping to implement the project; the Army Corps is responsible for completing the NEPA process which will help decide if permits required for the project will be issued. It also helps to ensure the most environmentally responsible course of action is taken, should permits be issued.
All public comments received in the scoping period that ended last week will be addressed in the first draft EIS due out in August of 2014.
Following the issuance of the Draft EIS, there will be a final public commenting period.
As this process moves forward, I will be sure to keep you informed, and as always please don’t hesitate to send me any questions you may have. If I don’t know the answer, I will be happy to find it for you!