36 CFR 220.7 - Environmental assessment and decision notice.
(a) Environmental assessment. An environmental assessment (EA) shall be prepared for proposals as described in § 220.4(a) that are not categorically excluded from documentation (§ 220.6) and for which the need of an EIS has not been determined (§ 220.5). An EA may be prepared in any format useful to facilitate planning, decisionmaking, and public disclosure as long as the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section are met. The EA may incorporate by reference information that is reasonably available to the public.
(b) An EA must include the following:
(1) Need for the proposal. The EA must briefly describe the need for the project.
(2) Proposed action and alternative(s). The EA shall briefly describe the proposed action and alternative(s) that meet the need for action. No specific number of alternatives is required or prescribed.
(i) When there are no unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources (NEPA, section 102(2)(E)), the EA need only analyze the proposed action and proceed without consideration of additional alternatives.
(ii) The EA may document consideration of a no-action alternative through the effects analysis by contrasting the impacts of the proposed action and any alternative(s) with the current condition and expected future condition if the proposed action were not implemented.
(iii) The description of the proposal and alternative(s) may include a brief description of modifications and incremental design features developed through the analysis process to develop the alternatives considered. The documentation of these incremental changes to a proposed action or alternatives may be incorporated by reference in accord with 40 CFR 1502.21.
(iv) The proposed action and one or more alternatives to the proposed action may include adaptive management. An adaptive management proposal or alternative must clearly identify the adjustment(s) that may be made when monitoring during project implementation indicates that the action is not having its intended effect, or is causing unintended and undesirable effects. The EA must disclose not only the effect of the proposed action or alternative but also the effect of the adjustment. Such proposal or alternative must also describe the monitoring that would take place to inform the responsible official whether the action is having its intended effect.
(3) Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action and Alternative(s). The EA:
(i) Shall briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis, including the environmental impacts of the proposed action and alternative(s), to determine whether to prepare either an EIS or a FONSI (40 CFR 1508.9);
(ii) Shall disclose the environmental effects of any adaptive management adjustments;
(iii) Shall describe the impacts of the proposed action and any alternatives in terms of context and intensity as described in the definition of “significantly” at 40 CFR 1508.27;
(iv) May discuss the direct, indirect, and cumulative impact(s) of the proposed action and any alternatives together in a comparative description or describe the impacts of each alternative separately; and
(v) May incorporate by reference data, inventories, other information and analyses.
(4) Agencies and Persons Consulted.
(c) Decision notice. If an EA and FONSI have been prepared, the responsible official must document a decision to proceed with an action in a decision notice unless law or regulation requires another form of decision documentation (40 CFR 1508.13). A decision notice must document the conclusions drawn and the decision(s) made based on the supporting record, including the EA and FONSI. A decision notice must include:
(1) A heading, which identifies the:
(i) Title of document;
(ii) Agency and administrative unit;
(iii) Title of the project; and
(iv) Location of the action, including county and State.
(2) Decision and rationale;
(3) Brief summary of public involvement;
(4) A statement incorporating by reference the EA and FONSI if not combined with the decision notice;
(5) Findings required by other laws and regulations applicable to the decision at the time of decision;
(6) Expected implementation date;
(7) Administrative review or appeal opportunities and, when such opportunities exist, a citation to the applicable regulations and directions on when and where to file a request for review or an appeal;
(8) Contact information, including the name, address, and phone number of a contact person who can supply additional information; and
(9) Responsible Official's signature, and the date the notice is signed.
(d) Notification. The responsible official shall notify interested and affected parties of the availability of the EA, FONSI and decision notice, as soon as practicable after the decision notice is signed.