Small Cell Siting Again Subject to NEPA, NHPA Review

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The FCC rolled back some of its rules concerning small cell siting; the change removed an exemption for some small cells from environmental or historic preservation review. A federal appeals court decision this week vacated those portions of the Commission’s 2018 Second Report and Order. The court issued a mandate on Monday.

That’s why the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is now repealing the language implementing the exception.

 The change means small cell deployments are now are subject to review to the same extent as larger wireless facilities, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

The Commission voted in September 2018, to streamline small cell siting. But a federal appeals court this August ruled the agency didn’t justify its elimination of the NHPA and NEPA reviews and vacated that part of the FCC’s streamlining order, reported Broadcasting and Cable. The ruling to roll back the rules was effective October 7, when it was published in the Federal Register.  

The agency doesn’t think a public comment period is necessary in this case because it “lacks discretion” to depart from the court’s direction. 

October 10, 2019

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