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  4. Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for The Nationwide Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for The Nationwide Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

When proposed actions are similar to each other or repetitive, federal agencies are encouraged to consider evaluating potential environmental impacts in a programmatic manner. Program-level analysis can establish the boundaries for the analyses, documentation, and decisions of subsequent project-level decisions, thus avoiding repetition and delay. Additionally, programmatic environmental analysis and documentation can also identify best management practices (BMPs) that may be applied for project-specific activities to ensure the avoidance of significant impacts on resources and alleviate the need for subsequent reviews. 

This Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) evaluates the United States (US) Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ongoing use of small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS; i.e., drone) activities nationwide to meet DHS mission requirements (Proposed Action). This PEA analyzes sUAS as an asset to DHS mission and operations. Potential utilization of sUAS by DHS to counter national security threats (e.g., use of sUAS by foreign adversaries) is outside the scope of this analysis.

The assessment of environmental impacts is an important and integral part of DHS’s decision-making process. As such, DHS prepared this PEA to assess at a national scale the environmental impacts that may occur as a result of the Proposed Action and establish standard BMPs by which DHS can reduce such impacts. This PEA complies with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA); 42 United States Code [USC] §§ 4321 et seq.); the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500-1508); and DHS Management Directive 023-01, rev. 01 Implementation of the NEPA.

Public Review: DHS would like to solicit public input or comments on the Draft PEA, which has been extended an additional 30 days to October 9, 2022. The original NOA was published August 11, 2022. DHS has prepared this PEA in digital form as well. The “Digital Draft PEA” can be accessed at https://us.planengage.com/suas

Comments: Comments on the Draft PEA or inquiries regarding the document should be submitted during the 30-day comment period via electronic mail to Sarah Koeppel at sep-ephp@hq.dhs.gov. Please include reference to “SUAS NEPA DRAFT PEA” in the subject heading. A mailing address to submit hardcopy comments can be provided upon request. A mailing address to submit hardcopy comments can be provided upon request.

Attachment Ext. Size Date
Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Nationwide Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems PDF 1.82 MB 08/10/2022
Notice of Availability: Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Nationwide Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems PDF 44.2 KB 08/10/2022
Draft Finding of No Significant Impact for the Nationwide Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems PDF 77.08 KB 09/08/2022
Last Updated: 09/09/2022
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