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Notice

Notice of the U.S. Air Force Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement and FAA Approval of the Record of Decision for the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative (RBTI)

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Adoption of the USAF Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement and Issuance of the FAA Record of Decision (ROD).

SUMMARY:

The FAA is announcing—adoption of the United States Air Force (USAF) Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative (RBTI), and approval of the FAA Record of Decision (ROD). The USAF proposal was to create airspace that allows B-52 and B-1 aircrews to receive much needed realistic combat training while maximizing their training time. RBTI includes the Lancer Military Operating Area (MOA) and the Instrument Military Training Route 178 (IR-178).

EFFECTIVE DATES:

April 11, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Federal Aviation Administration, Central Services Area, System Support Group, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX, 76137.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Nan Terry, Federal Aviation Administration, Central Services Area, System Support Group, 2601 Meacham Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas, 76137, (817) 222-5594.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

On December 19, 1997, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for RBTI began with publication of the Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in March 1999 (Volume 64, Number 53). Fifteen public hearings were held in 11 communities. The Final EIS, published and made available to the public in January 2000, identified the USAF preferred alternative as Alternative B.

In March 2000, the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations issued its initial Record of Decision (ROD) ((Air Force 2000b)), choosing Alternative B for implementation. They then submitted the formal airspace proposal to establish the Lancher Military Operating Area (MOA) to the FAA in April 2000. After conducting its own independent evaluation of the environmental documentation and completing the aeronautical circularization process, the FAA adopted the Final EIS and gave final approval for the RBTI airspace on December 11, 2001, with an effective date of February 21, 2002.

The USAF and FAA were sued by parties alleging, among other things that there was a failure to comply with NEPA. In March 2003, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, granted summary judgment in favor of the United States. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. One of the plaintiffs also filed a separate petition in the Fifth Circuit alleging that the FAA had failed to comply with NEPA in approving the RBTI airspace. In a single opinion covering both the USAF and FAA cases, the Court of Appeals (October 2004) upheld the adequacy of the Final EIS in most respects, but remanded the action to the USAF and FAA to prepare a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) addressing the impact of wake vortices on ground structures, and to the USAF for compliance with the Council on Environmental Quality and USAF internal requirements for addressing FAA comments.

Public Involvement Pertaining to the SEIS

The Air Force, in cooperation with the FAA, published a Notice of Availability for the Draft Supplemental EIS in the Federal Register on November 18, 2005 marking the beginning of the official comment period. Between December 5, 2005 and January 28, 2006, the Air Force and FAA conducted a total of five public hearings at locations in the proximity of the proposed action and alternatives. Lubbock, Texas was added as the fifth public hearing location based on requests from interested citizens.

Notice of Availability of the Final SEIS appeared in the Federal Register on August 11, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 155) with a comment period of thirty-one (31) days. Additional information regarding the public Start Printed Page 27623involvement process can be found in the USAF ROD dated March 20, 2007.

Copies of the Final SEIS can be received by contacting Ms. Sheryl Parker at (757) 764-9334. The document is also available for review, during normal business hours, at the following locations:

Abilene Public Library202 Cedar St.Abilene, TX79601
Alpine Public Library203 N. 7th St.Alpine, TX79830
Amarillo Public libraryP.O. Box 2171Amarillo, TX79189
Stonewall County LibraryP.O. Box HAspermont, TX79502
Reagan CountyCounty CourthouseBig Lake, TX76932
Howard County312 Scurry St.Big Spring, TX79720
Crane County Library701 S. Alford St.Crane, TX79731
Dallam County Library420 Denrock Ave.Dalhart, TX79022
Jeff Davis County LibraryCourt and Main StreetsFt. Davis, TX79734
Ft. Stockton Public Library400 N. WaterFt. Stockton, TX79735
Kent County LibraryP.O. Box 28Jayton, TX79258
Winkler County Library307 S. PoplarKermit, TX79745
Dawson Co. Public LibraryP.O. Box 1264Lamesa, TX79331
Lubbock Library1306 9th St.Lubbock, TX79401
Marfa City Municipal LibraryP.O. Drawer UMarfa, TX79845
Irion County LibraryP.O. Box 766Merzton, TX76941
Ward County Library409 S. Dwight St.Monahans, TX79756
Ector County Library321 W. 5th St.Odessa, TX79761
Reeves County Library505 S. Park St.Pecos, TX79772
Post Public Library105 E. Main St.Post, TX79356
City of Presidio LibraryP.O. Box KPresidio, TX79845
Rankin Public LibraryP.O. Box 6Rankin, TX79778
Rotan Public Library404 E. Snyder Ave.Rotan, TX79546
Tom Green County System113 W. Beauregard Ave.San Angelo, TX76903
Sierra Blanca Public LibrarySierra BlancaSierra Blanca, TX79851
Scurry County Public Library1916 23rd St.Snyder, TX79549
Sterling County Public LibraryP.O. Box 1130Sterling City, TX76951
Taos Public Library402 Camino de la PlacitaTaos, NM87571
City-County LibraryBox 1018Tahoka, TX79373
Van Horn LibraryP.O. Box 129Van Horn, TX79855

The FAA's determinations on the project are outlined in the FAA ROD, which was approved on April 11, 2007. A copy of the ROD can be received by contacting Ms. Nan Terry, in the For Further Information Section above.

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Issued in Washington, DC, on May 7, 2007.

Edith V. Parish,

Acting Manager, Environmental Programs Group, System Operations Airspace & Aeronautical Information Management, Air Traffic Organization.

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[FR Doc. 07-2394 Filed 5-15-07; 8:45am]

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