2004 State Trail Administrators Meeting
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) / Streamlining
SHANNON CONNER DUMOLT
OKLAHOMA DIVISION, FHWA
Decision making prior to 1969
Decision making after 1969
- Engineering Based
- Economy (cheapest)
- Awareness of People
- Awareness of Environment
- National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
- Single most important piece of environmental legislation ever passed
- First time there was a national policy to prevent or eliminate damage to the environment
- NEPA is a federal responsibility when there is a "federal action"
- Essential Elements of NEPA
- Public Involvement
- Interagency Coordination
- CE--Where we know there are no significant impacts
- EIS--Where we know that there are significant impacts
- EA--Where we aren't sure if there are significant impacts and must do further study to find out.
Significant Impact--Context and Intensity of the impact or the cumulative intensity of the impacts is such that it cannot be adequately mitigated as defined by the agency with jurisdiction or the division office.
Non-Significant Impacts--can be mitigated or are of such small impact that there is no need for mitigation as defined by the agency with jurisdiction or the division office.
- FHWA has codified the environmental regulations in 23 CFR 771
- Most RTP projects will need a programmatic Categorical Exclusion.
- Categorical exclusion means a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human or natural environment.
- C List (23 CFR 771.117(c))
- List of actions that meet the criteria for CEs
- Normally requires no further NEPA approvals
- Must document that you looked at and determined no unusual circumstances
- This is a project by project process
- D List (23 CFR 771.117(d))
- Additional actions which meet the criteria for a CE may be designated as a CE only after FHWA approval
- Individual project approval required based on submitted documentation
- The level of information to be provided should be commensurate with the action's potential for adverse environmental impacts.
- Significant environmental impacts
- Substantial controversy on environmental grounds
- Impacts to properties protected by Section 106 or 4(f).
- FHWA individual project approval required based on submitted documentation
Other Environmental Laws
- Section 4(f) of the USDOT Act of 1966: Parks, recreation, refuges, and historic properties
- Section 6(f) of LWCF. Public lands dedicated for outdoor recreation in perpetuity.
- Section 106 (NHPA): Historic Properties
- Section 404 (CWA): Wetlands
- Section 7 (ESA): Threatened and endangered species
- Conformity: (CAAA)
- Section 9: Bridge Permits
Motorized Projects are not on the C or D list
- These are often controversial and cause substantial controversy on environmental grounds
- Many states require a minimum of an EA on a motorized project. If this is the case--Purpose and Need become a very important player.
Purpose and Need
- The purpose and need is the most important part of the EA process.
- It will be scrutinized by the division office
- If there is no clearly demonstrated "need" for the project, it cannot be recommended for approval by the FHWA staff person reviewing NEPA
- Articulate "need" in terms understandable to the general public
- Executive Order 13274
- Address Delay in the NEPA process by
- Improve NEPA process performance
- Coordinated Review
- Established time frames
- Fund resource agency positions
- Conflict resolution-ADR
- Management of the NEPA process
How does this apply to us?
- Moving CE designations from the "D" list to the "C" list or adding new designations to the "D" list through documenting findings over periods of time
- Working on MOUs with SHPO and other resource agencies to establish the types of projects they would like to see, thereby reducing overall project load
- Work with the Division Office to help you with tribes and other resource agencies in order to utilize existing MOU/MOA instruments and shorten review time.
- Remember--ALL TRUE STREAMLINING IS LOCAL!!!
- Trails were meant to enhance the environment
- NEPA is merely a method for you to show that to the world
- Be thankful for NEPA, forward looking people in the late 1960s started the awareness which has lead to transportation dollars for trails!