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The Alternatives section of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provides a list of alternatives that are being considered along with the proposed build or project. While the EIS focuses on the proposed build, it also is required to consider the consequences of not building at all. It’s important to note that the list of alternatives may be limited to build or no build options, especially if no conflicts exist regarding other resources or scenarios in the project area.

Other reasonable alternatives may be considered in the EIS to the degree commensurate with the nature of the proposed action. Generally, the greater the degree of impacts, the wider the range of alternatives the FAA considers.

According to the FAA, “For a proposal having greater impacts and a wider range of alternatives, the responsible official is encouraged to consider:

(1) ways that the project purposes can be achieved with less harmful impacts on the environment; and

(2) alternatives proposed by the public or another agency, provided that such alternatives are reasonable, feasible, and achieve the project’s purpose.”

“Whether a proposed alternative is reasonable depends upon the extent to which it meets the purpose and need for the proposed action.” The EIS briefly presents the environmental impacts of the proposed action and the reasonable alternatives in comparative form. This review is to sharply define the issues and provide a clear basis for a choice among options. For alternatives that are considered but eliminated from further study, the EIS will briefly explain why there were eliminated. The alternatives discussion of the EIS includes:

“(1) A list of alternatives considered, including the proposed build scenario and the no build alternatives. For each alternative, any connected or cumulative actions should also be considered.

(2) A statement identifying the preferred alternative, if one has been identified.

(3) A concise statement explaining why any initial alternatives considered have been eliminated from further study, e.g., they are not reasonable because they fail to meet the purpose and need for the proposed action.

(4) A listing under each reasonable alternative of any other applicable laws, regulations, and executive orders and associated permits, licenses, approvals, and reviews.

(5) Charts, graphs, and figures, if appropriate, to aid in understanding the alternatives, for example, to depict alternative runway configurations.”

— Quotes taken from FAA Order 1050.1E

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