Notice of Intent To Prepare a Tiered Environmental Impact Statement for the New Jersey Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 242 (Tuesday, December 17, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 242 (Tuesday, December 17, 2019)]
[Pages 68910-68911]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2019-27122]
Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers
Notice of Intent To Prepare a Tiered Environmental Impact
Statement for the New Jersey Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management
Feasibility Study
AGENCY: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.
ACTION: Notice of intent.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia
District (Corps) is preparing an integrated Feasibility Report/Tiered
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed New Jersey Back
Bays (NJBB) Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Feasibility Study. The
study is assessing the feasibility of coastal storm risk management
alternatives to be implemented within the authorized study area with a
specific emphasis on the back bay areas along the New Jersey Atlantic
Coast extending from Cape May Inlet to Shark River Inlet including the
NJ Coastal Lakes Area.
DATES: Comments and suggestions must be submitted by January 16, 2020.
ADDRESSES: Pertinent information about the study can be found at: Interested parties are welcome to send written comments
and suggestions concerning the scope of issues to be evaluated within
the Tiered EIS to Steven D. Allen, Environmental Resources Branch,
Planning Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District.
Mail: Steven D. Allen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia
District, CENAP-PL-E, Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East,
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3390; phone: (215) 656-6559; email:
[email protected].
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Questions about the overall NJBB
study should be directed to J.B. Smith, Project Manager, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, Planning Division, Project
Development Branch. Mail: J.B. Smith, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Philadelphia District, CENAP-PL-PC, Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square
East, Philadelphia, PA 19107-3390; Phone: (215) 656-6579; email:
[email protected].
1. Background
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in partnership with the
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), as the non-
federal sponsor, are undertaking this study. The NJBB CSRM Feasibility
Study area is one of 9 focus areas with vulnerable coastal populations
identified in the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS). The
NACCS was conducted in response to Public Law 113-2 and the Water
Resource and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 following the
devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which greatly affected the
study area in October of 2012. The purpose of the NJBB CSRM Feasibility
Study is to identify comprehensive CSRM strategies to increase coastal
resilience, and to reduce flooding risk from future storms and impacts
of sea level change. The objective of the Study is to investigate CSRM
problems and solutions to reduce damages from coastal flooding that
affect population, critical infrastructure, critical facilities,
property, and ecosystems. The authority for the proposed project is the
resolution adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on
Public Works and Transportation and the U. S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works dated December 1987. A Feasibility Cost
Sharing Agreement (FCSA) was executed in 2016 with the NJDEP.
2. Study Area
    The study area encompasses approximately 950 square miles located
behind the New Jersey barrier islands of Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington,
Atlantic and Cape May Counties, and includes the set of interconnected
water bodies and coastal lakes that are separated from the Atlantic
3. Corps Decision Making
    As required by Council on Environmental Quality's Principles,
Requirements and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources
Implementation Studies all reasonable alternatives to the proposed
Federal action that meet the purpose and need will be considered in the
Tiered EIS. Tiering, which is defined in 40 CFR 1508.28, is a means of
making the environmental review process more efficient by allowing
parties to ``eliminate repetitive discussions of the same issues and to
focus on the actual issues suitable for decision at each level of
environmental review'' (40 CFR 1502.20). The Study will consider the
full array of structural, non-structural, and natural and nature-based
measures, and will consider past, current, and future coastal storm
risk management and resilience planning initiatives and projects
underway by the USACE and other Federal, State, and local agencies.
4. Public Participation
    The Corps and the NJDEP hosted two agency workshop meetings in June
2017, with representatives from federal and state agencies, counties,
municipalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), elected
officials and academia. The Corps initially announced the preparation
of an integrated Feasibility Report/EIS for study in the December 27,
2017 Federal Register. Two public NEPA scoping meetings were later held
in the southern and northern regions of the study area in September
2018. Subsequent to the publication of the December 27, 2017 NOI, the
Study was granted an exemption from the requirement to complete the
feasibility study within 3 years, as required in Section 1001(a) of the
Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. This exemption was
granted on October 31, 2018 on an interim basis, and allowed for an
additional 17 months to complete the Draft Integrated Feasibility
Report and Tier 1 EIS. Therefore, in order to align the revised study
schedule with Executive Order 13807, Notice to Withdraw the original
NOI was published in the February 20, 2019 Federal Register. To further
provide the public with study information, an Interim Feasibility
Report and Environmental Scoping Document was released on February 28,
2019 that identified the preliminary economic, environmental,
engineering and other studies performed to date of the above referenced
alternatives. This report presented the selection of a focused array of
alternatives for further evaluation. A webinar was later held on March
14, 2019 to present the findings of the report and to solicit comments
from the general public and stakeholders. In addition, comments,
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concerns and information submitted to the Corps are being evaluated and
considered during the development of the Draft EIS. Comments received
are continuing to aid the study progress and included in the draft
report and will be part of the administrative record
5. Lead and Cooperating Agencies
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for the
preparation of a Tiered EIS in order to meet the requirements of the
NEPA and the NEPA Implementing Regulations of the President's Council
on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1500-1508). The following agencies
have accepted the invitation to be Cooperating Agencies: The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The preparation of a Tiered
EIS will be coordinated with New Jersey State and local municipalities
with discretionary authority relative to the proposed actions. The
Draft Integrated Feasibility Report/Tiered EIS is currently scheduled
for distribution to the public in March of 2020.
    Dated: December 9, 2019.
Jeffrey L. Milhorn,
Major General, U.S. Army, Commander, North Atlantic Division.
[FR Doc. 2019-27122 Filed 12-16-19; 8:45 am]