(a)Objective. The basic objective of FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354's public involvement process is threefold. It is to ensure that interested citizens can readily obtain knowledge of the environmental review status of FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354's funding applications, have the opportunity to input into this review process before decisions are made, and have access to the environmental documents supporting FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 decisions.
(b)Public notice requirements. (1) For projects that undergo the preparation of an environmental impact statement, the first element of formal public participation in the EIS process involves the publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS. The content of the notice of intent and its publication by FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 in the Federal Register are explained in § 1940.320 of this subpart. With respect to notification within the project area, the applicant will be requested to publish a copy of the notice of intent and the date of the scoping meeting in the newspaper of general circulation in the vicinity of the proposed action and in any local or community-oriented newspapers within the proposed action's area of environmental impact. The notice will be published in easily readable type in the nonlegal section of the newspaper(s). It will also be bilingual if the affected area is largely non-English speaking or bilingual. Individual copies of the notice will be sent by the applicant to the appropriate regional EPA office, any State and regional review agencies established under Executive Order 12372; the State Historic Preservation Officer; local radio stations and other news media; any State or Federal agencies planning to provide financial assistance to this or related actions or required to review permit applications for this action, any potentially affected Indian Tribe; any individuals, groups, local, State, and Federal agencies known to be interested in the project; affected property owners; and to any other parties that FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 has identified to be so notified. It will also be posted at a readable location on the project site. The applicant will provide FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 with a copy of the notice as it appeared in the newspaper(s), the date(s) published, and a list of all parties receiving an individual notice. Publication and individual transmittal of the notice for the scoping meeting will be accomplished at least 14 days prior to the date of the meeting.
(2) Coincident with the distribution of either a draft or final EIS, a notice of the statement's availability will be published within the project area in the same manner as a notice of intent to prepare an EIS. FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 will request EPA to publish in the Federal Register a notice of the statement's availability in accordance with EPA's requirements and pursuant to § 1506.10 of the CEQ regulations.
(3) For Class II actions that are determined not to have a significant environmental impact, the Agency will require the applicant to publish a notification of this determination. This notice will be published in the same manner as a notice of intent to prepare an EIS but will appear for at least 3 consecutive days if published in a daily newspaper or otherwise in two consecutive publications. Individual copies will be sent to the same parties that are required to be sent a notice of intent, as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, with the exception of local radio stations and other news media. Also, there is no requirement to post this notice on the project site. The applicant will provide FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 with a copy of this notice, the dates the notice was published, and a list of all parties receiving an individual notice. This notification procedure does not apply to actions reviewed solely on the basis of a Class I assessment.
(4) The public notice procedures for actions that will affect floodplains, wetlands, important farmlands, prime rangelands or prime forest lands are contained in exhibit C of this subpart. These procedures apply to actions that require either an EIS, Class II assessment or Class I assessment. However, whenever an action normally classified as a categorical exclusion requires a Class I assessment because of the potential impact to one of these important land resources, no public notice procedures apply in the course of completing the Class I assessment. When applicable to an action, as specified in exhibit C of this subpart, these public notice procedures can apply at two distinct stages. The first stage, a preliminary notice, applies to any of the five important land resources. The second stage, a final notice, is followed by a fifteen-day public review period and applies only to actions that will impact floodplains or wetlands. For Class II actions, this final notice procedure must be combined with any applicable finding of no significant environmental impact, which is described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section. Individual copies of the preliminary and final notices will be sent to the same parties that are required to be sent a notice of finding of no significant impact, as specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, with the following exception. Whenever property owners affected by proposed mitigation measures, such as proposed hook-up restrictions on portions of water or sewer lines that will traverse floodplains, are advised of these proposed measures in a preliminary notice, these property owners need not be sent copies of the final notice as long as the mitigation measures in the final notice are unchanged from the preliminary notice and no property owners raised objections or concerns over the mitigation measures.
(5) The public notice requirements associated with holding a public information meeting are specified in paragraph (c) of this section.
(c)Public information meetings. (1) Public information meetings will be held for an action undergoing an EIS as specified in § 1940.320 of this subpart. As part of the EIS process, a public information meeting will be held near the project site to discuss and receive comments on the draft EIS. It will be scheduled no sooner than 15 days after the release of the draft EIS. It will be announced in the same manner as the scoping meeting, and the list of parties receiving an individual notification will also be developed in the same manner. The meeting will be chaired by the State Director or a designee and will be fully recorded so that a transcript can be produced. The applicant will be requested to assist in obtaining a facility for holding the meeting. To the extent possible, this meeting will be combined with public meetings required by other involved agencies.
(2) Whenever a public information meeting is held as part of the completion of an environmental assessment, it will be scheduled, announced, and held in generally the same manner as a public information meeting for an EIS. However, a minimum of 7 days advance notice of the meeting is sufficient, and a transcript of the meeting will not be required. Rather a summary of the meeting to include the major issues raised will be prepared by the FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 official who chaired the meeting.
(d)Distribution of environmental documents. FmHA or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 officials will promptly provide to interested parties, upon request, copies of environmental documents, including environmental assessments, draft and final environmental impact statements, and records of decision. Interested parties can request these materials from the appropriate State Director or approval official for project activities and from the Administrator on other activities subject to environmental review.
Title 7 published on 2014-01-01
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