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Scoping Process

Complete details on the scoping process and Environmental Impact Statement
is available on the Department of Ecology’s website.

The Scoping Process—Dept. of Ecology

An environmental impact statement (EIS) is prepared when the lead agency has determined a proposal is likely to result in significant adverse environmental impacts (see section on how to Assess Significance). The EIS process is a tool for identifying and analyzing probable adverse environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and possible mitigation.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

Scoping is the first step in the EIS process. The purpose of scoping is to narrow the focus of the EIS to significant environmental issues, to eliminate insignificant impacts from detailed study, and to identify alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS. Scoping also provides notice to the public and other agencies that an EIS is being prepared, and initiates their involvement in the process.

Department of Ecology, State of Washington

Although no formal response to the scoping comments is required, some agencies choose to prepare a scoping document that 1) summarizes the comments received during the scoping process; 2) identifies the elements of the environment, alternatives and mitigation measures to be analyzed; and 3) provides other relevant information.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

After reviewing the comments received during scoping, the lead agency must determine the scope of the EIS. The lead agency selects the alternatives and the elements of the built and natural environment [A list of the elements of the built and natural environment is found in WAC 197-11-444] that will be analyzed in the EIS. The alternatives selected must include the proposal, the no-action alternative, and other reasonable alternatives. The elements of the environment that are evaluated in the EIS should be narrowed to just those that may be significantly impacted.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The primary purpose of an EIS is to provide an impartial discussion of significant environmental impacts, and reasonable alternatives and mitigation measures that avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts. This environmental information is used by agency officials—in conjunction with applicable regulations and other relevant information—to make decisions to approve, condition, or deny the proposal.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

A common misconception is that the requirement of an EIS for a project means that the proposal will probably be denied. This is not the intent or necessarily the outcome of an EIS. A determination to prepare an EIS means there are likely significant adverse environmental impacts that need to be carefully considered and understood, and alternative avenues for mitigating the issues that need to be investigated.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

A draft EIS documents the lead agency’s analysis of a proposal, and provides an opportunity for agencies, affected tribes, and the public to review the document and provide suggestions for improving the adequacy of the environmental analysis. Comments on the draft EIS stimulate discussion and thoughts about how to change or condition the proposal to further protect the environment. Lead agency review of those comments offers the opportunity to improve the completeness, accuracy, and objectivity of the environmental analysis of a proposal. Improvements can then be made in the final EIS that will provide information to decision-makers. In some cases, the proponent may choose to modify the proposal based on comments made during the draft EIS comment period. In that instance, the modifications would also be described and evaluated in the final EIS.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

The final EIS provides decision-makers with environmental information about a proposal to help them decide whether to approve the proposal, approve it with conditions (mitigation), or deny the proposal. It is the lead agency’s record of the environmental analysis conducted for the proposal. The final EIS includes information and input from the applicant, lead agency, other agencies with jurisdiction or concern, tribes, and the public regarding the proposal. It is completed early enough so that there is still a choice between reasonable alternatives.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

The final EIS is distributed to the Department of Ecology (two copies), all agencies with jurisdiction, any agency who commented on the draft EIS, and (though a fee may be charged) to any person requesting a copy. The final EIS or a notice that it is available must also be sent to anyone who had commented or received the draft EIS [WAC 197-11-460]. Agencies may take action on the proposal seven days after the final EIS has been issued.

-Department of Ecology, State of Washington

Complete details on the scoping process and Environmental Impact Statement
is available on the Department of Ecology’s website.