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CBP to examine environmental impact of its actions along U.S.-Canadian border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has decided to prepare four different environmental impact statements that will assess the effect of stepped-up patrols, surveillance, cargo scanning, enhanced communications and other activities in four different regions along the 5,500-mile Northern Border that separates the U.S. from Canada.

The environmental studies, which will examine the effects of ports of entry, checkpoints, stations, water and power utilities, roads, hangers, boat ramps, docks and kennels, as well as communications and surveillance towers, will cover an area that extends approximately 100 miles south of the Northern Border.

“Because this effort is ‘programmatic’ in nature, the study will not seek to define effects for a specific or planned action,” says a CBP notice published in the Federal Register on July 6. “Instead, it will analyze the overall effects of activities supporting the homeland security mission of CBP.”

The four separate studies, technically known as Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements, or PEISs, will focus on four separate geographic areas:

  • New England – which will encompass Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont;
  • Great Lakes – which will include New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin;
  • East of the Rocky Mountains – which will look at Minnesota, North Dakota and eastern Montana;
  • West of the Rocky Mountains – which will examine western Montana, Idaho and Washington.

CBP is encouraging members of the public to submit their comments on these four planned PEISs by August 5.

It is also planning to hold four “public scoping meetings,” at which the scope of the intended environmental assessments will be discussed. Those meetings will be held as follows:

  • In New England – in Augusta, ME on July 12 and Swanton, VT on July 13;
  • In Great Lakes – in Rochester, NY on July 12; in Erie, PA, on July 13; in Massena, NY, on July 14 and in Detroit, MI, on July 21;
  • East of the Rockies  --  in Duluth, MN, on July 19; in Minot, ND, on July 21 and in Havre, MT, on July 22;
  • West of the Rockies – in Bellingham, WA, on July 19 and in Bonners Ferry, ID, on July 21.

“At 5,500 miles in length, the Northern Border of the United States stands as the longest common border in the world,” said the CBP in its notice. “The terrain ranges from densely forested lands on the west and east coasts to open plains in the middle of the country.”

As part of its four PEISs, Customs and Border Protection also plans to look at its use of vehicles such as ATVs, snowmobiles, marine vessels and aircraft.

The studies will also examine the degree to which its activities will impact resources included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Further information is available from Jennifer Hass, of CBP’s office of administration, at 202-344-1929.

Information about these planned studies, and the upcoming public scoping meetings, can be found at the PEIS Web site: http://www.NorthernBorderPEIS.com.


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