32 CFR 651.35 - Decision process.
(a) An EA results in either a FNSI or an NOI to prepare an EIS. Initiation of an NOI to prepare an EIS should occur at any time in the decision process when it is determined that significant effects may occur as a result of the proposed action. The proponent should notify the decision maker of any such determination as soon as possible.
(b) The FNSI is a document (40 CFR 1508.13) that briefly states why an action (not otherwise excluded) will not significantly affect the environment, and, therefore, an EIS will not be prepared. It summarizes the EA, noting any NEPA documents that are related to, but are not part of, the scope of the EA under consideration. If the EA is attached, the FNSI may incorporate the EA's discussion by reference. The draft FNSI will be made available to the public for review and comment for 30 days prior to the initiation of an action (see § 651.14(b)(2)(iii) for an exception). Following the comment period, the decision maker signs the FNSI, and the action can proceed. It is important that the final FNSI reflect the decision made, the response to public comments, and the basis for the final decision.
(c) The FNSI must contain the following:
(1) The name of the action.
(2) A brief description of the action (including any alternatives considered).
(3) A short discussion of the anticipated environmental effects.
(4) The facts and conclusions that have led to the FNSI.
(5) A deadline and POC for further information or receipt of public comments (see § 651.47).
(d) The FNSI is normally no more than two typewritten pages in length.
(e) The draft FNSI will be made available to the public prior to initiation of the proposed action, unless it is a classified action (see § 651.13 for security exclusions). Draft FNSIs that have national interest should be submitted with the proposed press release, along with a Questions and Answers (Q&A) package, through command channels to ASA(I&E) for approval and subsequent publication in the FR. Draft FNSIs having national interest will be coordinated with OCPA. Local publication of the FNSI will not precede the FR publication. The text of the publication should be identical to the FR publication.
(f) For actions of only regional or local interest, the draft FNSI will be publicized in accordance with § 651.14(b)(2). Distribution of the draft FNSI should include any agencies, organizations, and individuals that have expressed interest in the project, those who may be affected, and others deemed appropriate.
(g) Some FNSIs will require the implementation of mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts below significance levels, thereby eliminating the requirement for an EIS. In such instances, the following steps must be taken:
(1) The EA must be made readily available to the public for review through traditional publication and distribution, and through the World Wide Web (WWW) or similar technology. This distribution must be planned to ensure that all appropriate entities and stakeholders have easy access to the material. Ensuring this availability may necessitate the distribution of printed information at locations that are readily accessible and frequented by those who are affected or interested.
(2) Any identified mitigations must be tracked to ensure implementation, similar to those specified in an EIS and ROD.
(3) The EA analysis procedures must be sufficiently rigorous to identify and analyze impacts that are individually or cumulatively significant.
(h) The proponent is responsible for funding the preparation, staffing, and distribution of the draft FNSI and EA package, and the incorporation of public/agency review and comment. The proponent shall also ensure appropriate public and agency meetings, which may be required to facilitate the NEPA process in completing the EA. The decision maker will approve and sign the EA and FNSI documents. Proponents will ensure that the EA and FNSI, to include drafts, are provided in electronic format to allow for maximum information flow throughout the process.
(i) The proponent should ensure that the decision maker is continuously informed of key findings during the EA process, particularly with respect to potential impacts and controversy related to the proposed action.