49 CFR 262.15 - Environmental assessment.
(a) The provision of grant funds by FRA under this Part is subject to a variety of environmental and historic preservation statutes and implementing regulations including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4332 et seq.), Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. 303(c)), the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470(f)), and the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531). Appropriate environmental and historic documentation must be completed and approved by the Administrator prior to a decision by FRA to approve a project for physical construction. FRA's “Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts,” as posted at http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/252, the NEPA regulation of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR part 1500) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Protection of Historic Properties regulation (36 CFR part 800) will govern FRA's compliance with applicable environmental and historic preservation review requirements.
(b) States have two options for proceeding with environmental/historic preservation reviews. A State may file an application under subsection § 262.11 seeking funds for preliminary design and environmental/historic preservation compliance for a potentially eligible project and FRA will review and decide on the application as outlined in this Part. Alternatively, a State may proceed with and fund any costs associated with environmental/historic preservation reviews (including environmental assessments and categorical excisions, but not environmental impact statements since there are restrictions on what types of entities can manage an environmental impact statement) and seek reimbursement from FRA for these costs to the extent they otherwise qualify as allowable costs if FRA later approves the project for physical construction and enters into a grant agreement with the State. If a State pays for the compliance work itself, it may apply this cost to the 10% matching requirement if a grant is awarded. Applicants should consult with FRA before beginning any environmental or historic preservation analysis.