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About NEC Future

What is a Tier 1 EIS?

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed projects as part of their decision-making. NEPA provides the flexibility to assess projects in a staged approach known as “tiering.” Tiering addresses broad programs and issues in an initial (Tier 1) or programmatic level analysis, and analyzes site-specific, project-level (Tier 2) proposals and impacts in subsequent studies. Given the broad scope and complexity of the NEC FUTURE program, a tiered approach to the environmental review process was chosen. The Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assesses the corridor-wide impacts of proposed improvements to the NEC. More detailed Tier 2 environmental reviews will be needed to examine the potential impacts of the site-specific projects that are advanced following the Tier 1 EIS.

The Tier 1 EIS considers the following questions:

  • Which alternative best meets the Purpose and Need and achieves the most benefits for the Northeast?
  • What are the associated transportation and economic effects of the proposed service and infrastructure investments?
  • How would these investments affect the natural and human environment in the Northeast?
  • How can the subsequent Tier 2 NEPA review process be more streamlined?

The Tier 1 Draft EIS documents the planning process and describes the proposed improvements, assesses their environmental, transportation, and economic effects and proposes strategies for mitigating potential negative effects. It also describes the steps taken to comply with Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, and the Final USDOT Environmental Justice Order 5610.2A. Along with complying with the NEPA process, the FRA is conducting a concurrent process to consider effects on cultural and historic resources in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

For more details on the environmental review process, refer to the Environmental Review page.