40 CFR § 35.3580 - Environmental review requirements.

§ 35.3580 Environmental review requirements.

(a)General. With the exception of activities identified in paragraph (b) of this section, a State must conduct environmental reviews of the potential environmental impacts of projects and activities receiving assistance.

(b)Activities excluded from environmental reviews. A State must conduct environmental reviews of source water protection activities under § 35.3535, unless the activities solely involve administration (e.g., personnel, equipment, travel) or technical assistance. A State is not required to conduct environmental reviews of all the other eligible set-aside activities under § 35.3535 because EPA has determined that, due to their nature, they do not individually, cumulatively over time, or in conjunction with other actions have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. A State does not need to include provisions in its SERP for excluding these activities. Activities excluded from environmental reviews remain subject to other applicable Federal cross-cutting authorities under § 35.3575.

(c)Tier I environmental reviews. All projects that are assisted by the State in amounts up to the amount of the capitalization grant deposited into the Fund must be reviewed in accordance with a SERP that is functionally equivalent to the review undertaken by EPA under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). With the exception of activities excluded from environmental reviews in paragraph (b) of this section, activities for which a State provides assistance from capitalization grant funds deposited into set-aside accounts must also be reviewed in accordance with a SERP that is functionally equivalent to the review undertaken by EPA under the NEPA. A State may elect to apply the procedures at 40 CFR part 6 and related subparts or apply its own “NEPA-like” SERP for conducting environmental reviews, provided that the following elements are met:

(1)Legal foundation. A State must have the legal authority to conduct environmental reviews of projects and activities receiving assistance. The legal authority and supporting documentation must specify:

(i) The mechanisms to implement mitigation measures to ensure that a project or activity is environmentally sound;

(ii) The legal remedies available to the public to challenge environmental review determinations and enforcement actions;

(iii) The State agency that is primarily responsible for conducting environmental reviews; and

(iv) The extent to which environmental review responsibilities will be delegated to local recipients and will be subject to oversight by the primary State agency.

(2)Interdisciplinary approach. A State must employ an interdisciplinary approach for identifying and mitigating adverse environmental effects including, but not limited to, those associated with other cross-cutting Federal environmental authorities.

(3)Decision documentation. A State must fully document the information, processes, and premises that influence its decisions to:

(i) Proceed with a project or activity contained in a finding of no significant impact (FNSI) following documentation in an environmental assessment (EA);

(ii) Proceed or not proceed with a project or activity contained in a record of decision (ROD) following preparation of a full environmental impact statement (EIS);

(iii) Reaffirm or modify a decision contained in a previously issued categorical exclusion (CE), EA/FNSI or EIS/ROD following a mandatory 5 year environmental reevaluation of a proposed project or activity; and

(iv) If a State elects to implement processes for either partitioning an environmental review or categorically excluding projects or activities from environmental review, the State must similarly document these processes in its proposed SERP.

(4)Public notice and participation. A State must provide public notice when: a CE is issued or rescinded; a FNSI is issued but before it becomes effective; a decision that is issued 5 years earlier is reaffirmed or revised; and prior to initiating an EIS. Except with respect to a public notice of a CE or reaffirmation of a previous decision, a formal public comment period must be provided during which no action on a project or activity will be allowed. A public hearing or meeting must be held for all projects and activities except for those having little or no environmental effect.

(5)Alternatives consideration. A State must have evaluation criteria and processes which allow for:

(i) Comparative evaluation among alternatives, including the beneficial and adverse consequences on the existing environment, the future environment, and individual sensitive environmental issues that are identified by project management or through public participation; and

(ii) Devising appropriate near-term and long-range measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts.

(d)Tier II environmental reviews. A State may elect to apply an alternative SERP to all projects and activities (except those activities excluded from environmental reviews in paragraph (b) of this section) for which a State provides assistance in amounts that are greater than the amount of the capitalization grant deposited into the Fund or set-aside accounts, provided that the process:

(1) Is supported by a legal foundation which establishes the State's authority to review projects and activities;

(2) Responds to other environmental objectives of the State;

(3) Provides for comparative evaluations among alternatives and accounts for beneficial and adverse consequences to the existing and future environment;

(4) Adequately documents the information, processes, and premises that influence an environmental determination; and

(5) Provides for notice to the public of proposed projects and activities and for the opportunity to comment on alternatives and to examine environmental review documents. For projects or activities determined by the State to be controversial, a public hearing must be held.

(e)Categorical exclusions (CEs). A State may identify categories of actions which do not individually, cumulatively over time, or in conjunction with other actions have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment and which the State will exclude from the substantive environmental review requirements of its SERP. Any procedures under this paragraph must provide for extraordinary circumstances in which a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental effect.

(f)Environmental reviews for refinanced projects or reimbursed project costs. A State must conduct an environmental review which considers the impacts of a project based on conditions of the site prior to initiation of the project. Failure to comply with the environmental review requirements cannot be justified on the grounds that costs have already been incurred, impacts have already been caused, or contractual obligations have been made prior to the binding commitment.

(g)EPA approval process. The RA must review and approve any StateNEPA-like” and alternative procedures to ensure that the requirements for Tier I and Tier II environmental reviews have been met. The RA will conduct these reviews on the basis of the criteria for evaluating NEPA-like reviews contained in Appendix A to this subpart.

(h)Modifications to approved SERPs. Significant changes to State environmental review procedures must be approved by the RA.