40 CFR § 1501.9 - Scoping.

§ 1501.9 Scoping.

(a) Generally. Agencies shall use an early and open process to determine the scope of issues for analysis in an environmental impact statement, including identifying the significant issues and eliminating from further study non-significant issues. Scoping may begin as soon as practicable after the proposal for action is sufficiently developed for agency consideration. Scoping may include appropriate pre-application procedures or work conducted prior to publication of the notice of intent.

(b) Invite cooperating and participating agencies. As part of the scoping process, the lead agency shall invite the participation of likely affected Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies and governments, the proponent of the action, and other likely affected or interested persons (including those who might not be in accord with the action), unless there is a limited exception under § 1507.3(f)(1) of this chapter.

(c) Scoping outreach. As part of the scoping process the lead agency may hold a scoping meeting or meetings, publish scoping information, or use other means to communicate with those persons or agencies who may be interested or affected, which the agency may integrate with any other early planning meeting. Such a scoping meeting will often be appropriate when the impacts of a particular action are confined to specific sites.

(d) Notice of intent. As soon as practicable after determining that a proposal is sufficiently developed to allow for meaningful public comment and requires an environmental impact statement, the lead agency shall publish a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in the Federal Register, except as provided in § 1507.3(f)(3) of this chapter. An agency also may publish notice in accordance with § 1506.6 of this chapter. The notice shall include, as appropriate:

(1) The purpose and need for the proposed action;

(2) A preliminary description of the proposed action and alternatives the environmental impact statement will consider;

(3) A brief summary of expected impacts;

(4) Anticipated permits and other authorizations;

(5) A schedule for the decision-making process;

(6) A description of the public scoping process, including any scoping meeting(s);

(7) A request for identification of potential alternatives, information, and analyses relevant to the proposed action (see § 1502.17 of this chapter); and

(8) Contact information for a person within the agency who can answer questions about the proposed action and the environmental impact statement.

(e) Determination of scope. As part of the scoping process, the lead agency shall determine the scope and the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the environmental impact statement. To determine the scope of environmental impact statements, agencies shall consider:

(1) Actions (other than unconnected single actions) that may be connected actions, which means that they are closely related and therefore should be discussed in the same impact statement. Actions are connected if they:

(i) Automatically trigger other actions that may require environmental impact statements;

(ii) Cannot or will not proceed unless other actions are taken previously or simultaneously; or

(iii) Are interdependent parts of a larger action and depend on the larger action for their justification.

(2) Alternatives, which include the no action alternative; other reasonable courses of action; and mitigation measures (not in the proposed action).

(3) Impacts.

(f) Additional scoping responsibilities. As part of the scoping process, the lead agency shall:

(1) Identify and eliminate from detailed study the issues that are not significant or have been covered by prior environmental review(s) (§ 1506.3 of this chapter), narrowing the discussion of these issues in the statement to a brief presentation of why they will not have a significant effect on the human environment or providing a reference to their coverage elsewhere.

(2) Allocate assignments for preparation of the environmental impact statement among the lead and cooperating agencies, with the lead agency retaining responsibility for the statement.

(3) Indicate any public environmental assessments and other environmental impact statements that are being or will be prepared and are related to but are not part of the scope of the impact statement under consideration.

(4) Identify other environmental review, authorization, and consultation requirements so the lead and cooperating agencies may prepare other required analyses and studies concurrently and integrated with the environmental impact statement, as provided in § 1502.24 of this chapter.

(5) Indicate the relationship between the timing of the preparation of environmental analyses and the agencies' tentative planning and decision-making schedule.

(g) Revisions. An agency shall revise the determinations made under paragraphs (b), (c), (e), and (f) of this section if substantial changes are made later in the proposed action, or if significant new circumstances or information arise which bear on the proposal or its impacts.