44 CFR § 9.6 - Decision-making process.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to set out the floodplain management and wetlands protection decision-making process to be followed by the Agency in applying the Orders to its actions. While the decision-making process was initially designed to address the floodplain Order's requirements, the process will also satisfy the wetlands Order's provisions due to the close similarity of the two directives. The numbering of Steps 1 through 8 does not firmly require that the steps be followed sequentially. As information is gathered throughout the decision-making process and as additional information is needed, reevaluation of lower numbered steps may be necessary.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in § 9.5 (c), (d), (f), and (g) regarding categories of partial or total exclusion when proposing an action, the Agency shall apply the 8-step decision-making process. FEMA shall:
Step 1. Determine whether the proposed action is located in a wetland and/or the 100-year floodplain (500-year floodplain for critical actions); and whether it has the potential to affect or be affected by a floodplain or wetland (see § 9.7);
Step 2. Notify the public at the earliest possible time of the intent to carry out an action in a floodplain or wetland, and involve the affected and interested public in the decision-making process (see § 9.8);
Step 3. Identify and evaluate practicable alternatives to locating the proposed action in a floodplain or wetland (including alternative sites, actions and the “no action” option) (see § 9.9). If a practicable alternative exists outside the floodplain or wetland FEMA must locate the action at the alternative site.
Step 4. Identify the potential direct and indirect impacts associated with the occupancy or modification of floodplains and wetlands and the potential direct and indirect support of floodplain and wetland development that could result from the proposed action (see § 9.10);
Step 5. Minimize the potential adverse impacts and support to or within floodplains and wetlands to be identified under Step 4, restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values served by floodplains, and preserve and enhance the natural and beneficial values served by wetlands (see § 9.11);
Step 6. Reevaluate the proposed action to determine first, if it is still practicable in light of its exposure to flood hazards, the extent to which it will aggravate the hazards to others, and its potential to disrupt floodplain and wetland values and second, if alternatives preliminarily rejected at Step 3 are practicable in light of the information gained in Steps 4 and 5. FEMA shall not act in a floodplain or wetland unless it is the only practicable location (see § 9.9);
Step 8. Review the implementation and post-implementation phases of the proposed action to ensure that the requirements stated in § 9.11 are fully implemented. Oversight responsibility shall be integrated into existing processes.