Replacement Terminal Environmental Assessment
3. Why is the Environmental Impact Statement a longer process?
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is a longer process because the public process and the reviews by regulatory agencies take longer than when reviewing an EA. However, it is important to note that technical analyses of an EIS and an EA are the same.
The EA is a process by which the project sponsor (Trenton-Mercer Airport for this terminal project) manages and presents the document to the FAA and the public. The Draft EA and Final EA (after the public comment period) are both reviewed by the FAA. Once the FAA accepts the Final EA, the FAA will issue one of the following decisions:
Record of Decision
A combined Record of Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact
Elevate the project to an EIS level due to there being a significant impact that is not able to be mitigated
An EIS follows all of the same procedures and technical analysis as the EA but is a process that is managed by the FAA, not the sponsor. The EIS process typically requires a formal public hearing, but the decision to have a hearing is at the discretion of the FAA. A project can start as with an EA and then move to an EIS if a significant impact is identified or can start out as an EIS if a significant impact is known at the beginning of the process.
The EIS process is usually longer than an EA by several months to several years due to the agency review process and agency consultation process.