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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

SAFETEA-LU Environmental Review Process (Public Law 109-59)


[1] The guidance applies to all projects using the Section 6002 environmental review process. The process is mandatory for EIS projects. For the applicability of Section 6002 in the case of projects involving environmental assessments or categorical exclusions, see Question 8.

[2] This document uses the term "NEPA document" to refer to documents prepared specifically to comply with NEPA, and uses "environmental document" to refer more generally to documents prepared to comply with NEPA or with any other Federal environmental law whose compliance is folded into the environmental review process.

[3] Conference Report 109-203, page 1047-1048.

[4] For transit New Starts and Small Starts projects, a planning Alternatives Analysis, as defined in 49 USC 5309(a)(1), is required. In Section 6002, the term "alternatives analysis" does not refer to the transit New Starts requirement. It refers to the broad analysis of reasonable alternatives required by NEPA, which may range from the evaluation of alternative modes and alignments to consideration of site-specific design and mitigation options, to consideration of no action. For clarity, this guidance uses the term "New Starts Alternatives Analysis" to refer to the requirement in 49 USC 5309.

[5] Conference Report 109-203, page 1048.

[6] The congressional Conference Report 109-203 (page 1048) accompanying SAFETEA-LU states: "Collaboration means a cooperative and interactive process. It is not necessary for the lead agency to reach consensus with the participating agencies on these issues; the lead agency must work cooperatively with the participating agencies and consider their views, but the lead agency remains responsible for decisionmaking."

[7] The methodology used by the lead agencies must be consistent with any methodology established by statute or regulation under the authority of another Federal agency (e.g., the EPA's hot spot analysis under the Clean Air Act).

[8] 40 CFR Part 230.

[9] While not required by statute, consideration also should be given to the resources available to the participating agencies.

[10] Designation as a "participation agency" does not imply that the participating agency supports the proposed project or has any jurisdiction over, or special expertise concerning the proposed project or its potential impacts. A "participating agency" differs from a "cooperating agency," which is defined in regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act as "any Federal agency other than a lead agency which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved in a proposal (or a reasonable alternative) for legislation or other major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." 40 C.F.R. § 1508.5.

Updated: 12/15/2015
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