32 CFR § 775.6 - Planning considerations.

§ 775.6 Planning considerations.

(a) An EIS must be prepared for proposed major Federal actions that will have significant impacts on the human environment. The agency decision in the case of an EIS is reflected in a ROD.

(b) Where a proposed major Federal action has the potential for significantly affecting the human environment, but it is not clear whether the impacts of that particular action will in fact be significant, or where the nature of an action precludes use of a categorical exclusion, an EA may be used to assist the agency in determining whether to prepare an EIS. If the agency determination in the case of an EA is that there is no significant impact on the environment, the findings will be reflected in a FONSI. If the EA determines that the proposed action is likely to significantly affect the environment (even after mitigation), then an EIS will be prepared. An EA also may be used where it otherwise will aid compliance with NEPA.

(c) CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1508.18(a)) define major federal actions subject to evaluation under NEPA to include, among other things, “new and continuing activities”. The term new activities is intended to encompass future actions, i.e., those which are not ongoing at the time of the proposal. The term continuing activities which may necessitate the preparation of a NEPA document will be applied by the Department of Navy to include activities which are presently being carried out in fulfillment of the Navy mission and function, including existing training functions, where:

(1) The currently occurring environmental effects of which have not been previously evaluated in a NEPA document, and there is a discovery that substantial environmental degradation is occurring, or is likely to occur, as a result of ongoing operations (e.g., a discovery that significant beach erosion is occurring as a result of continuing amphibious exercises, new designation of wetland habitat, or discovery of an endangered species residing in the area of the activity), or

(2) There is a discovery that the environmental effects of an ongoing activity are significantly and qualitatively different or more severe than predicted in a NEPA document prepared in connection with the commencement of the activity.

A substantial change in a continuing activity (such as a substantial change in operational tempo, area of use, or in methodology/equipment) which has the potential for significant environmental impacts should be considered a proposal for a new action and be documented accordingly. Preparation of a NEPA document is not a necessary prerequisite, nor a substitute, for compliance with other environmental laws.

(d) Where emergency circumstances require immediate action, for the protection of lives and for public health and safety, which could result in significant harm to the environment, the activity Commanding Officer or his designee shall report the emergency action to CNO (OP-44E)/CMC (LFL) who will facilitate the appropriate consultation with CEQ as soon as practicable.

(e) A categorical exclusion (CATEX), as defined and listed in this part and 40 CFR 1508.4, may be used to satisfy NEPA, eliminating the need for an EA or an EIS. Extraordinary circumstances are those circumstances for which the DON has determined that further environmental analysis may be required because an action normally eligible for a CATEX may have significant environmental effects. The presence of one or more of the extraordinary circumstances listed in paragraph (e)(1) of this section does not automatically preclude the application of a CATEX. A determination of whether a CATEX is appropriate for an action, even if one or more extraordinary circumstances are present, should focus on the action's potential effects and consider the environmental significance of those effects in terms of both context (consideration of the affected region, interests, and resources) and intensity (severity of impacts).

(1) Before applying a CATEX, the decision maker must consider whether the proposed action would individually or cumulatively:

(i) Adversely affect public health or safety;

(ii) Involve effects on the human environment that are highly uncertain, involve unique or unknown risks, or which are scientifically controversial;

(iii) Establish precedents or make decisions in principle for future actions that have the potential for significant impacts;

(iv) Threaten a violation of Federal, State, or local environmental laws applicable to the DON; or

(v) Involve an action that may:

(A) Have more than an insignificant or discountable effect on federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act or have impacts that would rise to the level of requiring an Incidental Take Authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act irrespective of whether one is procured;

(B) Have an adverse effect on coral reefs or on federally designated wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries and monuments, or parklands;

(C) Adversely affect the size, function, or biological value of wetlands and is not covered by a general (nationwide, regional, or state) permit;

(D) Have an adverse effect on archaeological resources or resources listed or determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (including, but not limited to, ships, aircraft, vessels, and equipment) where compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act has not been resolved through an agreement executed between the DON and the appropriate historic preservation office and other appropriate consulting parties; or

(E) Result in an uncontrolled or unpermitted release of hazardous substances or require a conformity determination under standards in 40 CFR part 93, subpart B (the Clean Air Act General Conformity Rule).

(2) If a decision is made to apply a CATEX to a proposed action that is more than administrative in nature, the decision must be formally documented per existing Navy and Marine Corps policy. For actions with a documented CATEX where one or more extraordinary circumstances are present, a copy of the executed CATEX decision document (e.g., Record of CATEX or Decision Memorandum) must be forwarded for review to Navy Headquarters or Marine Corps Headquarters, as appropriate, before the action is implemented. With the exception of actions that fall under paragraph (e)(1)(v)(A) of this section, the requirement to send the documented CATEX to headquarters for review will end on January 6, 2022.

(f) Subject to the criteria in paragraph (e) of this section, the following categories of actions are excluded from further analysis under NEPA. The CNO and CMC shall determine whether a decision to forego preparation of an EA or EIS on the basis of one or more categorical exclusions must be documented in an administrative record and the format for such record.

(1) Routine fiscal and administrative activities, including administration of contracts;

(2) Routine law and order activities performed by military personnel, military police, or other security personnel, including physical plant protection and security;

(3) Routine use and operation of existing facilities, laboratories, and equipment;

(4) Administrative studies, surveys, and data collection;

(5) Issuance or modification of administrative procedures, regulations, directives, manuals, or policy;

(6) Military ceremonies;

(7) Routine procurement of goods and services conducted in accordance with applicable procurement regulations, executive orders, and policies;

(8) Routine repair and maintenance of buildings, facilities, vessels, aircraft, ranges, and equipment associated with existing operations and activities (e.g., localized pest management activities, minor erosion control measures, painting, refitting, general building/structural repair, landscaping, or grounds maintenance);

(9) Training of an administrative or classroom nature;

(10) Routine personnel actions;

(11) Routine movement of mobile assets (such as ships, submarines, aircraft, and ground assets for repair, overhaul, dismantling, disposal, homeporting, home basing, temporary reassignments; and training, testing, or scientific research) where no new support facilities are required;

(12) Routine procurement, management, storage, handling, installation, and disposal of commercial items, where the items are used and handled in accordance with applicable regulations (e.g., consumables, electronic components, computer equipment, pumps);

(13) Routine recreational and welfare activities;

(14) Alterations of and additions to existing buildings, facilities, and systems (e.g., structures, roads, runways, vessels, aircraft, or equipment) when the environmental effects will remain substantially the same and the use is consistent with applicable regulations;

(15) Routine movement, handling, and distribution of materials, including hazardous materials and wastes that are moved, handled, or distributed in accordance with applicable regulations;

(16) New activities conducted at established laboratories and plants (including contractor-operated laboratories and plants) where all airborne emissions, waterborne effluent, external ionizing and non-ionizing radiation levels, outdoor noise, and solid and bulk waste disposal practices are in compliance with existing applicable Federal, state, and local laws and regulations;

(17) Studies, data, and information gathering that involve no permanent physical change to the environment (e.g., topographic surveys, wetlands mapping, surveys for evaluating environmental damage, and engineering efforts to support environmental analyses);

(18) Temporary placement and use of simulated target fields (e.g., inert mines, simulated mines, or passive hydrophones) in fresh, estuarine, and marine waters for the purpose of non-explosive military training exercises or research, development, test, and evaluation;

(19) Installation and operation of passive scientific measurement devices (e.g., antennae, tide gauges, weighted hydrophones, salinity measurement devices, and water quality measurement devices) where use will not result in changes in operations tempo and is consistent with applicable regulations;

(20) Short-term increases in air operations up to 50 percent of the typical operation rate, or increases of 50 operations per day, whichever is greater. Frequent use of this CATEX at an installation requires further analysis to determine there are no cumulative impacts;

(21) Decommissioning, disposal, or transfer of naval vessels, aircraft, vehicles, and equipment when conducted in accordance with applicable regulations, including those regulations applying to removal of hazardous materials;

(22) Non-routine repair and renovation, and donation or other transfer of structures, vessels, aircraft, vehicles, landscapes, or other contributing elements of facilities listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places;

(23) Hosting or participating in public events (e.g., air shows, open houses, Earth Day events, and athletic events) where no permanent changes to existing infrastructure (e.g., road systems, parking, and sanitation systems) are required to accommodate all aspects of the event;

(24) Military training conducted on or over nonmilitary land or water areas, where such training is consistent with the type and tempo of existing non-military airspace, land, and water use (e.g., night compass training, forced marches along trails, roads, and highways, use of permanently established ranges, use of public waterways, or use of civilian airfields);

(25) Transfer of real property from the DON to another military department or to another Federal agency;

(26) Receipt of property from another Federal agency when there is no anticipated or proposed substantial change in land use;

(27) Minor land acquisitions or disposals where anticipated or proposed land use is similar to existing land use and zoning, both in type and intensity;

(28) Disposal of excess easement interests to the underlying fee owner;

(29) Initial real estate in grants and out grants involving existing facilities or land with no significant change in use (e.g., leasing of federally owned or privately owned housing or office space, and agricultural out leases);

(30) Renewals and minor amendments of existing real estate grants for use of Government-owned real property where no significant change in land use is anticipated;

(31) Land withdrawal continuances or extensions that establish time periods with no significant change in land use;

(32) Grants of license, easement, or similar arrangements for the use of existing rights-of-way or incidental easements complementing the use of existing rights-of-way for use by vehicles (not to include significant increases in vehicle loading); electrical, telephone, and other transmission and communication lines; water, wastewater, storm water, and irrigation pipelines, pumping stations, and facilities; and for similar utility and transportation uses;

(33) New construction that is similar to or compatible with existing land use (i.e., site and scale of construction are consistent with those of existing adjacent or nearby facilities) and, when completed, the use or operation of which complies with existing regulatory requirements (e.g., a building within a cantonment area with associated discharges and runoff within existing handling capacities). The test for whether this CATEX can be applied should focus on whether the proposed action generally fits within the designated land use of the proposed site;

(34) Demolition, disposal, or improvements involving buildings or structures when done in accordance with applicable regulations including those regulations applying to removal of asbestos, PCBs, and other hazardous materials;

(35) Acquisition, installation, modernization, repair, or operation of utility (including, but not limited to, water, sewer, and electrical) and communication systems (including, but not limited to, data processing cable and similar electronic equipment) that use existing rights of way, easements, distribution systems, and facilities;

(36) Decisions to close facilities, decommission equipment, or temporarily discontinue use of facilities or equipment, where the facility or equipment is not used to prevent or control environmental impacts;

(37) Maintenance dredging and debris disposal where no new depths are required, applicable permits are secured, and disposal will be at an approved disposal site;

(38) Relocation of personnel into existing federally owned or commercially leased space that does not involve a substantial change affecting the supporting infrastructure (e.g., no increase in vehicular traffic beyond the capacity of the supporting road network to accommodate such an increase);

(39) Pre-lease upland exploration activities for oil, gas, or geothermal reserves, (e.g., geophysical surveys);

(40) Installation of devices to protect human or animal life (e.g., raptor electrocution prevention devices, fencing to restrict wildlife movement onto airfields, and fencing and grating to prevent accidental entry to hazardous areas);

(41) Reintroduction of endemic or native species (other than endangered or threatened species) into their historic habitat when no substantial site preparation is involved;

(42) Temporary closure of public access to DON property to protect human or animal life;

(43) Routine testing and evaluation of military equipment on a military reservation or an established range, restricted area, or operating area; similar in type, intensity, and setting, including physical location and time of year, to other actions for which it has been determined, through NEPA analysis where the DON was a lead or cooperating agency, that there are no significant impacts; and conducted in accordance with all applicable standard operating procedures protective of the environment;

(44) Routine military training associated with transits, maneuvering, safety and engineering drills, replenishments, flight operations, and weapons systems conducted at the unit or minor exercise level; similar in type, intensity, and setting, including physical location and time of year, to other actions for which it has been determined, through NEPA analysis where the DON was a lead or cooperating agency, that there are no significant impacts; and conducted in accordance with all applicable standard operating procedures protective of the environment;

(45) Natural resources management actions undertaken or permitted pursuant to agreement with or subject to regulation by Federal, state, or local organizations having management responsibility and authority over the natural resources in question, including, but not limited to, prescribed burning, invasive species actions, timber harvesting, and hunting and fishing during seasons established by state authorities pursuant to their state fish and game management laws. The natural resources management actions must be consistent with the overall management approach of the property as documented in an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) or other applicable natural resources management plan;

(46) Minor repairs in response to wildfires, floods, earthquakes, landslides, or severe weather events that threaten public health or safety, security, property, or natural and cultural resources, and that are necessary to repair or improve lands unlikely to recover to a management-approved condition (i.e., the previous state) without intervention. Covered activities must be completed within one year following the event and cannot include the construction of new permanent roads or other new permanent infrastructure. Such activities include, but are not limited to: Repair of existing essential erosion control structures or installation of temporary erosion controls; repair of electric power transmission infrastructure; replacement or repair of storm water conveyance structures, roads, trails, fences, and minor facilities; revegetation; construction of protection fences; and removal of hazard trees, rocks, soil, and other mobile debris from, on, or along roads, trails, or streams;

(47) Modernization (upgrade) of range and training areas, systems, and associated components (including, but not limited to, targets, lifters, and range control systems) that support current testing and training levels and requirements. Covered actions do not include those involving a substantial change in the type or tempo of operation, or the nature of the range (i.e., creating an impact area in an area where munitions had not been previously used);

(48) Revisions or updates to INRMPs that do not involve substantially new or different land use or natural resources management activities and for which an EA or EIS was previously prepared that does not require supplementation pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.9(c)(1); and

(49) DON actions that occur on another Military Service's property where the action qualifies for a CATEX of that Service, or for actions on property designated as a Joint Base or Joint Region that would qualify for a CATEX of any of the Services included as part of the Joint Base or Joint Region. If the DON action proponent chooses to use another Service's CATEX to cover a proposed action, the DON must obtain written confirmation the other Service does not object to using its CATEX to cover the DON action. The DON official making the CATEX determination must ensure the application of the CATEX is appropriate and that the DON's proposed action was of a type contemplated when the CATEX was established by the other Service. Use of this CATEX requires preparation of a Record of CATEX or Decision Memorandum.

[55 FR 33899, Aug. 20, 1990, as amended at 55 FR 39960, Oct. 1, 1990; 69 FR 8110, Feb. 23, 2004; 84 FR 66589, Dec. 5, 2019]

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