NEPA established environmental policies and goals to protect, maintain, and enhance the environment. It requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into the decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives of proposed actions utilizing federal funding or land. We have provided guidance, assisted in documentation development and evaluation/assessment for our clients on projects utilizing funding or lands under the control of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- HUD-Environmental Review Record (ERR)is conducted to identify and address environmental concerns as a result of activities for projects and programs that may receive funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is important to ensure the protection of residents, communities and neighborhoods as well as the natural environment (land, air and water) while providing public and government entities an opportunity to comment and provide input on the potential project. The ERR has varying levels of documentation requirements dependent upon the activities performed.
- Exempt Activities do not meet the requirements of NEPA. However exempt activities still require an ERR with minimal documentation including evaluations of hazards associated airport accident zones, flooding, and coastal barrier reefs.
- Categorical Exclusions are conducted for projects that meet the requirements of NEPA, but have been categorically excluded based on HUD’s previous experience. Categorical Exclusions are grouped into two categories. The first includes activities that do not have a potential to alter environmental conditions. The second category includes activities that due to their nature and magnitude include actions that will not result in a significant impact to the human environment, but could alter environmental conditions or historic properties.
- Environmental Assessments are conducted as part of the preliminary feasibility study to precede decisions on land under consideration for activities that are not exempt or categorically excluded. Environmental Assessments are typically done for land acquisition, construction of five or more homes, major changes in unit density, and/or expansion into a floodplain/wetland and conversion of land use.
- Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are prepared for complex projects and activities to meet 24 CFR 58.37. An EIS is required if: 1) the HUD project involves more than 2,500 household units; 2) an EA for a project resulted in a finding of significant impact determination; and/or 3) the project may potentially have a significant impact on the environment. PBR HAWAII has not yet prepared or evaluated actions requiring an EIS to meet 24 CFR 58.37 (although it has prepared and successfully processed Chapter 343, HRS EISs).
- HUD ERR Re-evaluation: Occasionally, after the completion of an ERR, new circumstances or new activities not previously considered as part of the project may occur. In these situations, a re-evaluation of the original findings is necessary. The re-evaluation process is project dependent and may address individual components of the review record or may be a comprehensive evaluation of environmental impacts and record keeping.
- A FHWA Categorical Exclusion Report is conducted for projects/activities that meet the requirements of NEPA, but have been categorically excluded based on FHWA experience. The Categorical Exclusion identifies and addresses environmental concerns for projects that may receive funding from FHWA. The Categorical Exclusion documentation includes an agency-developed checklist format, combined with a narrative discussion and relevant impact/issue-related attachments. It is similar to the categorical exclusion process done as part of the HUD ERR.
- An USDA-RD Environmental Report is conducted to identify and address environmental concerns as a result of activities for projects and programs that may receive funding from USDA-RD. It is similar to the categorical exclusion process done as part of the HUD ERR. Such projects include water, wastewater, electricity, or telecommunication infrastructure. It is done concurrently with a preliminary engineering report.
- Exemption Evaluations are conducted for projects that include actions that meet the requirements of Chapter 343, but have been deemed minor and/or routine by the State or County oversight agencies. An evaluation includes consultation with agencies and/or individuals with jurisdiction and expertise relevant to the project.
- Environmental Assessments are prepared as part of the preliminary feasibility study to precede decisions on land under consideration for various uses, that meet requirements of Chapter 343, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) and have not been identified as an exempt activity by State and County oversight agency. Environmental Assessments are typically prepared projects that that are likely to result in a finding of no significant impact determination and utilize state or county funds; utilize land within classified State conservation district, shoreline setback area, historic site/district, Waikïkï Special district; will amend County general plans, reclassify State Conservation lands; or construct/propose helicopter, wastewater, energy generating, landfill, or oil refining facilities.
- Environmental Impact Statements are prepared in compliance with Chapter 343 and in coordination with regulatory agencies. A composite evaluation of a project is conducted in relation to the project site, and the natural, social, and economic features of the region, along with discussion of potential impacts and proposed mitigation measures.
At the initial phase of project development planning, it is critical to create an environmental inventory to anticipate environmental impacts and opportunities. This is done to incorporate measures in land planning design to minimize negative impacts and to properly evaluate the environmental costs and benefits of all of the alternative concepts.
Environmental Resource Management Programs
When required, Environmental Resource Management Programs are based on an understanding of the inter relationship between all of the environmental elements of a study area as an ecologic system, and then the development of a policy program which recognizes the need for conservation and interpretation of the life cycle characteristics of the natural ecosys¬tems. One example is the Habitat Conservation Plan for the Abutilon Menziesii at Kapolei.
- Location Diamond Head, O‘ahu
The Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head is being designed to be a culinary training ground, where students will be able to receive an affordable and accessible world-class culinary training from world-class chefs. The advanced program intends to build upon the strong foundation of the Kapi‘olani Community College’s existing two-year culinary degree program. Its students will be able to pursue a baccalaureate degree of Applied Science in Culinary Management, advanced professional certificates, and/or short-term professional/continuing education courses. This advanced training program will develop greatly needed qualified, educated workers to support the Hawai‘i restaurant and hospitality industries, while building on the unique Asia-Pacific cuisine that has come to be world-renowned for its captivating blend of flavors, colors and textures.
The state-of-the-art facility will be constructed at the former Fort Ruger Cannon Club, on the slopes of Diamond Head. The Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head consists of a teaching restaurant, multi-functional kitchen laboratories, a competition/demonstration auditorium, classrooms, a student lounge, and faculty/administrative offices. The entire site will be connected through a network of covered walkways, landscaped courtyards, exterior educational features, and open spaces.
PBR HAWAII has been providing planning services for this project since 2004 and specifically provided: planning support during the conceptual design phase; an approved Final Environmental Assessment; and obtained land use approvals through the City and County of Honolulu including a Special Management Area Use Permit, Plan Review Use Permit, and Diamond Head Special Design District Permit.