Teton, FCC Settle NEPA, NHPA Case

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The FCC and Teton Communications agree that $20,000 will settle an Enforcement Bureau investigation. As part of the agreement, Teton admits it built a wireless facility without complying with the agency’s environmental and historic preservation rules, including those that implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Teton will also put a compliance plan in place.

In exchange, the Commission drops the case. It is not setting a hearing concerning Teton’s basic qualifications to hold or obtain a Commission license. In its decision, the FCC said the settlement will promote its goals of protecting the environment and historic properties by ensuring that licensees or applicants conduct the requisite environmental and historic preservation review before starting construction of a proposed facility.

Teton Communications provides two-way land mobile radio services in Idaho. In 2018, Teton hired an independent contractor to perform the required NEPA and NHPA reviews, including Tribal consultation procedures, for a proposed wireless facility in Idaho, which it called Idaho Tower. Teton also asked the contractor to determine whether the tower could “significantly affect the environment,” according to the FCC.

The local Tribal Historic Preservation Office told the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau that Teton didn’t complete the environmental and historic preservation reviews. Specifically, the office said the company didn’t complete the tribal consultation process before breaking ground at a location of cultural significance to the tribe. 

In its 2019 response, Teton admitted it broke ground on the tower too early, according to the Commission. “Specifically, Teton Communications failed to obtain a concurrence of no adverse effect from the State Historic Preservation Office, and failed to resolve concerns raised by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office prior to breaking ground on the wireless facility.”

As part of the agreement with the agency, Teton will designate a compliance office within 30 days and submit periodic compliance reports. The company must pay the entire civil penalty within 30 days.

January 7, 2020

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