Public Involvement

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The Navy is committed to an open and transparent public process.

NEPA is a U.S. federal law that requires federal agencies to identify and analyze the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action before deciding whether to proceed with that action. The law encourages and facilitates public involvement to inform decision makers on actions that may affect the community or the environment.

NEPA Process and Timeine

Importance of Public Involvement

Public and agency input allows decision makers to benefit from local knowledge and consider community issues and concerns. The public participates in the NEPA process during the following stages by:

  • Scoping Period: Helping to identify the scope of the analysis, including potential environmental issues and viable alternatives
  • Draft EIS/OEIS Public Review and Comment Period: Evaluating and providing substantive comments on the draft analysis
  • Final EIS/OEIS Wait Period: Reviewing the Final EIS/OEIS and Navy responses to substantive comments received on the Draft EIS/OEIS

Importance of Public Involvement

Importance of Public Involvement

Other Regulatory Processes and Public Involvement Opportunities

Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)

Photo provided by Brenda K. Rone, taken under NMFS permit no. 15330
Photo provided by Brenda K. Rone,
taken under NMFS permit no. 15330

Due to the use of active sonar and explosives during some training and testing activities, the Navy has applied for permits and authorizations under the MMPA with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Navy has requested from NMFS authorization for the unintentional take of marine mammals incidental to the training and testing activities conducted in the Hawaii-Southern California EIS/OEIS Study Area. NMFS will request public comments on its Proposed Rule to issue regulations and a subsequent Letter of Authorization to the Navy. After the NEPA process is complete, NMFS would make the determination whether to issue the Navy a Final Rule and Letter of Authorization.

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 Consultation

During the NEPA open house public meetings, an information station will be available, where subject matter experts will explain the section 106 process and solicit public input.Concurrent with the NEPA public involvement process, the Navy is conducting NHPA section 106 consultations regarding potential effects of the Proposed Action on historic properties. Historic properties include districts, sites, buildings, structures, or objects listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. During the NEPA open house public meetings, an information station will be available, where subject matter experts will explain the section 106 process and solicit public input. Based on the findings in the Draft EIS/OEIS, there would be no effects on submerged prehistoric sites.

Substantive Public Comments on the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS

Public participation is an important part of the National Environmental Policy Act process. Submitting substantive and concise comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS is one of the most important aspects of that process.

Submitting substantive and concise public comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS is one of the most important aspects of the NEPA process.

 The most effective comments are those that provide useful information to the Navy. For instance, submit comments if you find:

  • An error in analysis that may affect the outcome
  • New information that would change the analysis and conclusions
  • Any peer-reviewed scientific literature that should be considered in the analysis
  • Something that should be clarified
  • A substantially different alternative that meets the purpose and need statement and has not been considered

General recommendations to keep in mind when making comments on any NEPA document:

  • Support statements with details. If, for example, you are concerned about biological resources, it is helpful to focus on a particular problem or issue, such as a species that you feel was not sufficiently analyzed, instead of making a broad statement such as “the Navy did not adequately analyze the impacts on biological resources.” 
  • Back up your statements with explanations, facts, and references, as appropriate.
  • Be as specific as possible with your comments and refer to page numbers and paragraphs in the Draft EIS/OEIS.
  • Keep your comments focused on the specifics of the proposed project under consideration.
  • Submit your comments within the timeframes announced to ensure that your concerns are considered and addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS.
  • Request to be included on the EIS/OEIS mailing list to receive notification of public meetings and project information.
  • Recognize that the potential impacts on resources are likely to be described in more than one section because there are interrelationships between the resources and programs.
  • Become familiar with the contents of the Draft EIS/OEIS, including the purpose and need statement and the responsibilities of the lead agency (Navy).
  • Review the agency website to become familiar with the proposed project, learn about the NEPA process, understand the responsibilities and authorities of the federal agency, keep up to date on public meetings and comment periods, get answers to frequently asked questions, and view agency notifications.
  • Comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS are not counted as votes or as part of a referendum on Navy decisions. They are used to improve the document and analyses, and to ensure that the impacts are adequately determined before the Navy makes a final decision on the proposed project. Therefore, avoid comments that state “I am in favor of this project,” or “I am opposed to this project.” Remember that the more clear, concise, and relevant to the Draft EIS/OEIS your comments are, the more effective they will be and the more likely it is that they will be utilized to improve the final documents and affect the agency decisions. 

Cooperating Agency

National Marine Fisheries ServiceA cooperating agency is any agency, other than the lead agency, which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise concerning an environmental impact involved in a proposal. Federal agencies with jurisdiction by law and special expertise with respect to all reasonable alternatives or significant environmental, social, or economic impacts associated with the action were invited to be a cooperating agency. The National Marine Fisheries Service is a cooperating agency for the EIS/OEIS due to its regulatory responsibility for administering the Marine Mammal Protection Act permit program.

Resource Areas Analyzed in the Draft EIS/OEIS

The Navy analyzed the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the following environmental resource areas:

Physical Resources:

  • Air quality
  • Sediments and water quality

Biological Resources:

  • Vegetation
  • Invertebrates
  • Habitats
  • Fishes
  • Marine mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Birds

Human Resources:

  • Cultural
  • Socioeconomic
  • Public health and safety

Minimizing impacts on the marine environment from training and testing is important to the Navy. The Navy will continue to implement mitigation and monitoring measures to avoid or reduce environmental impacts from naval activities.

The Navy will comply with all applicable federal environmental laws, regulations, and executive orders, including, but not limited to, Executive Order 12114, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and Coastal Zone Management Act.

For more information about the findings of the environmental impact analysis, please see the Draft EIS/OEIS.