Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Navy proposing?

  • The Navy’s Proposed Action is to continue military readiness activities previously analyzed in the 2002 Point Mugu Sea Range Final EIS/OEIS and environmental assessments completed at the Point Mugu Sea Range since 2002, and proposed increases in testing and training activities that are the same as or similar to those currently occurring. 
    • The Proposed Action includes ongoing military readiness activities, including missile launch operations and directed-energy activities originating from Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu and San Nicolas Island. 
    • Testing and training activities are conducted at sea and in designated airspace within the Study Area. 

2. Why is the Navy preparing an EIS/OEIS?

  • The Navy is preparing an EIS/OEIS for the Point Mugu Sea Range to update previously analyzed testing and training activities because analytical methods used in the 2002 Point Mugu Sea Range Final EIS/OEIS are not consistent with the current modeling and analyses in more recent Navy environmental documents for the same type of activities. Potential impacts are being reexamined based on new science, data, and analytical methods.
  • The EIS/OEIS supports the request for federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
  • The EIS/OEIS will serve the purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act to inform Navy decision makers and the public on actions that may affect the community or the environment. 

3. Why is testing necessary?

  • Testing of new technologies by the U.S. Department of Defense continually occurs to ensure the U.S. military can counter new and anticipated threats. To maintain an edge over potential adversaries, Sailors must have access to technologically advanced vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems. All new Navy systems and related equipment must be tested to ensure proper functioning before delivery to the fleets for use. 
  • The Point Mugu Sea Range provides the air and sea space and infrastructure necessary to conduct testing activities to ensure vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems operate as intended.
  • The Point Mugu Sea Range is the Navy’s primary ocean testing area for guided missiles and related ordnance. Test operations on the sea range are conducted under highly controlled conditions, allowing for the collection of empirical data to evaluate the performance of a weapons system or subsystem.
     

4. Why is it necessary to increase the frequency of testing or training?

  • The type and frequency of testing and training activities can change due to the introduction of new technologies, the evolving nature of international events, advances in warfighting doctrine and procedures, and changes in force structure (organization of ships, submarines, aircraft, and weapons). Such developments can influence the frequency, duration, intensity, and location of required testing and training activities. 
  • The Navy’s Proposed Action reflects the most current set of activities deemed necessary to accomplish the Navy mission in the Study Area.
     

5. Why does the Study Area need to be so large?

  • Technology advancements and evolving international threats result in the development of weapons with longer ranges and greater precision.
  • Testing of some systems requires large areas to protect the safety of the public and civilian and military users of the sea space. 
  • The Navy strives to conduct tests in a manner that is compatible with civilian activities and avoids conflict for sea space.
  • The Point Mugu Sea Range is the world’s largest instrumented over-water range, and provides extensive testing and training capabilities for the U.S. Navy and allied forces.

6. What role does San Nicolas Island have in this EIS/OEIS?

  • San Nicolas Island provides infrastructure to support a variety of testing and training activities, such as radar, telemetry, and support facilities. In the EIS/OEIS, the Navy analyzed potential impacts of vehicles (missiles and targets) launched from San Nicolas Island, as well as directed-energy testing on the island. San Nicolas Island also provides a land impact site for inert weapons testing against a land target.
  • San Nicolas Island is one of the eight Channel Islands located off the coast of Southern California, 60 miles south of Point Mugu. San Nicolas Island has been owned by the Navy since 1933, and is approximately 9 miles long and 3 miles wide, totaling 14,562 acres. 

7. Can’t the Navy use simulators for testing and training?

  • When possible, Sailors use simulators and other advanced technologies when testing and training. Although simulation is a key component in the development of vessels, aircraft, and systems, it does not provide all the critical data on how they will perform or whether they will be able to meet performance and other specification requirements in the environment in which they are intended to operate. For this reason, vessels and aircraft systems and components must undergo at-sea testing. 

8. Why is at-sea testing and training with explosives necessary?

  • To the extent possible, Sailors test and train using inert (non-explosive) practice munitions. Non-explosives, however, cannot completely replace at-sea testing and training in a live environment.
  • Testing with explosive ordnance is essential for ensuring systems function properly in the type of environment they will be used and Sailors experience the handling of explosives in a non-wartime environment under stress.
  • Testing and training at sea with explosives significantly enhances the safety of U.S. forces in combat and improves readiness and equipment reliability.

9. Will there be impacts on marine mammals?

  • The Navy analyzed the potential impacts on marine species using the most current, best available science and analytical methods. The Navy also reevaluated its protective and mitigation measures to help minimize impacts on the marine environment.
  • The Draft EIS/OEIS analysis indicates that no long-term consequences for marine mammal species or stocks are expected. The Proposed Action may result in some short-term effects, such as behavioral responses or temporary hearing threshold shifts. A few animals may experience permanent threshold shift based on acoustic modeling.

10. Will noise from missile launches impact marine species?

  • On San Nicolas Island, noise associated with launching missiles and aerial targets can be relatively sudden or loud, which may cause behavioral responses from seals and sea lions (pinnipeds) resting on shore. The Navy strives to keep an adequate distance between missile flight paths and pinnipeds. Additionally, the Navy avoids pupping and breeding seasons to the extent practical. 
  • The Navy also monitors for potential impacts on pinniped haul-out sites during launch events. Launch sound is detectable by pinnipeds for a few seconds during each launch event and no long-term consequences for species or stocks are expected.

11. Will there be impacts on cultural resources?

  • The Draft EIS/OEIS analysis indicates there would be no impacts on submerged or terrestrial cultural resources from the Proposed Action.

12. Will there be impacts on recreation?

  • The Draft EIS/OEIS analysis indicates the number of closures for recreational boaters or aircraft could increase, but closures would typically be limited in time and space, and areas would reopen when the activity is complete. 
  • Access to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park would not be affected.

13. What protective measures for marine species are implemented at sea?

14. Has the Navy discussed the Proposed Action with federal and state regulators?

  • The Navy is consulting with several federal and state regulators on this EIS/OEIS.
    • National Marine Fisheries Service for essential fish habitat, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act compliance.
    • California Coastal Commission for compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act.
    • California State Historic Preservation Office for compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • In addition to formal consultation processes, the Navy requests and actively solicits feedback and comments from the public, government agencies, elected officials, nongovernmental organizations, and federally recognized tribes. Substantive public comments are considered and incorporated into the Final EIS/OEIS, as applicable. 

15. Will my input actually have any impact on this process?

  • The purpose of the Draft EIS/OEIS public review and comment period is to provide information to the public about the Proposed Action and to solicit substantive comments on the draft environmental analysis.
  • The Navy is reviewing substantive public comments received during the comment period and considering them in the preparation of the Final EIS/OEIS.

16. What are the next steps after the Draft EIS/OEIS?

  • The Navy is reviewing and considering public comments received during the Draft EIS/OEIS public review and comment period. Scientists will incorporate applicable comments into the environmental analysis and develop the Final EIS/OEIS. The Final EIS/OEIS will include responses to substantive comments received during the Draft EIS/OEIS comment period.
  • The Final EIS/OEIS will be released for a 30-day wait period to ensure the public has an opportunity to see how public comments were addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS. The Final EIS/OEIS is expected in summer 2021. The Notice of Availability of the Final EIS/OEIS will be published in the Federal Register and appropriate general circulation newspapers. The Final EIS/OEIS will be filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will be available on the project website and at information repositories. 
  • After the 30-day wait period, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations, and Environment) will select an alternative and issue a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision provides a public record of the decision, describes the public involvement and agency decision-making processes, and presents the commitments to specific mitigation measures. It will be published in the Federal Register and made available to the public. 
  • The Record of Decision is expected in fall 2021. Please know that the release date may change. The Navy’s focus is to ensure that accurate and complete information and data, including substantive public comments, are collected and appropriately analyzed.