22 CFR 161.5 - Major decision points and timing.
(a) The responsible action officer shall ensure compliance with these regulations at the earliest practicable stage of Departmental study, consideration or planning of a proposed major Federal action which could significantly affect the quality of the human environment. To accomplish this the responsible action officer must ensure that data developed during the review process is collected, analyzed and made available for consideration early in planning and decisionmaking when it will be most valuable in formulating, reviewing and deciding upon proposals for Departmental action.
(b) Environmental analysis and review of a proposed Departmental action shall be conducted as early as practicable so as to be timely, yet late enough to be relevant to the decisionmaking.
(c) Environmental documents should, whenever possible, accompany the principal action memorandum relating to a proposed action. An environmental document required in conjunction with conclusion of an international agreement shall, where possible, be prepared and circulated for review and comment before final negotiations begin. The completed environmental document should thus ordinarily accompany the principal action memorandum or request for authority to negotiate an agreement under the Department's Circular 175 regulation (11 FAM 720).
(d) To the maximum extent possible an environmental document should be prepared before the establishment of a final United States position on a proposal. In such cases the document should indicate the alternatives under consideration without specifying a Departmental preference. If the content and dimensions of a proposed action will not be clear until after the conclusion of an international negotiation or if a decision to proceed on an action involving another nation or international organization is required on short notice and before the environmental document can be prepared, the environmental document should be prepared as soon as possible after the conclusion of an agreed text of a treaty or agreement on the proposed action. If the Senate's advice and consent to a treaty with potential significant environmental effects in the United States will be sought, the final environmental impact statement should accompany other decision documentation for ratification. Legislative environmental impact statements on proposed treaties or legislation shall conform to the requirements of § 1506.8 of the CEQ Regulations and must be prepared in time for Congressional hearings and deliberations.
(e) Because actions having effects on the United States may to varying degrees be initiated, influenced and conducted by other countries, it is recognized that the preparation of environmental documents for such actions must be adjusted to meet a variety of circumstances. Bearing in mind the degree to which other countries possess information on and the ability to affect the decision under consideration, responsible action officers shall seek at all times to prepare environmental analysis documents as early as feasible in the decisionmaking process.