49 CFR 520.21 - Preparation of environmental reviews, negative declarations, and notices of intent.
(a) General responsibilities -
(1) Associate Administrators and Chief Counsel. Each Associate Administrator and the Chief Counsel is responsible for determining, in accordance with Subpart A, whether the projects and activities under his jurisdiction require an environmental review, and for preparing all such reviews, negative declarations, and notices of intent.
(2) Regional Administrators. Each Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Governor's Representative, is responsible for determining, in accordance with Subpart A, whether proposed State activities in his Region, as stated in Annual Work Programs, require an environmental review, and for the preparing all such reviews, negative declarations, and notices of intent.
(3) Associate Administrator for Planning and Evaluation. The Associate Administrator for Planning and Evaluation may request in accordance with the requirements of this order, that the appropriate Associate Administrator or Regional Administrator prepare an Environmental review or Environmental Impact Statement for any proposed or continuing NHTSA action, or comment on any environmental statement prepared by other agencies.
(b) Coordination. Coordination with appropriate local, State and Federal agencies should be accomplished during the early stages by the responsible official to assist in identifying areas of significance and concern. Existing procedures, including those established under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Revised Circular A-95, should be used to the greatest extent practicable to accomplish this early coordination.
(1) Each applicant for a grant, loan, or other financial assistance for use in State and community projects may be requested to submit, with the original application, an environmental assessment of the proposed project.
(2) Under OMB Revised Circular A-95, “Evaluation, Review, and Coordination of Federal Assistance Programs and Projects,” and DOT 4600.4B, “Evaluation, Review and Coordination of DOT Assistance Programs and Projects,” dated February 27, 1974, a grant applicant must notify the clearinghouse of its intention to apply for Federal program assistance. The notification must solicit comments on the project and its impacts from appropriate State and local agencies. Since it is the NHTSA's policy to assure that (i) interested parties and Federal, State, and local agencies receive early notification of the decision to prepare an environmental impact statement, and (ii) their comments on the environmental effects of the proposed Federal action are solicited at an early stage in the preparation of the draft impact statement, this early notification requirement may be met by a grant applicant by sending the notification to interested parties and agencies at the same time it is sent to the clearinghouse.
(d) Consultants. Consultants may prepare background or preliminary material and assist in preparing a draft or final environmental statement for which the NHTSA takes responsibility. Care should be exercised in selecting consultants, and in reviewing their work, to insure complete and objective consideration of all relevant project impacts and alternatives, particularly if the consultant may expect further contracts based on the outcome of the environmental decision.
(e) Environmental review report. The environmental review shall culminate in a brief written report of the same title, which shall be included in the proposed or ongoing agency action, and which:
(1) Describes the proposed or ongoing NHTSA action, the environment affected, and the anticipated benefits;
(2) Evaluates the potential environmental impact, including those adverse impacts which cannot be avoided, should the proposal be implemented or the action continued;
(3) Assesses the alternatives to the proposed or ongoing action and their potential environmental impact;
(4) Evaluates the cumulative and long-term environmental effects of the proposed or ongoing action;
(5) Describes the irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources involved in the proposal's implementation or the action's continuance;
(6) Identifies any known or potential conflicts with State, regional, or local plans and programs;
(7) Weighs and analyzes the anticipated benefits against the environmental and other costs of the proposed or ongoing action in a manner which reflects similar comparisons of reasonably available alternatives; and
(8) Concludes with a negative declaration or recommends the preparation of a DEIS.
(f) Negative declarations.
(1) If the responsible official judges that the environmental impact of a proposed or ongoing action under his jurisdiction will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment, the following declaration will be included in the environmental review report:
(2) A DEIS may be changed to a negative declaration if the public review process indicates that the proposal or ongoing action will not have a significant effect upon the environment.
(3) An index of all negative declarations and a copy of each environmental review report shall be retained by the responsible official under whose jurisdiction it was prepared and shall be made available for public inspection upon request.
(g) Notice of intent to prepare a draft environmental impact statement. If the responsible official under whose jurisdiction an environmental review is prepared determines that the proposed or ongoing action could have a potentially significant effect on the quality of the environment, he shall: coordinate with the Associate Administrator for Planning and Evaluation and the Chief Counsel, transmit to appropriate Federal, State and local agencies and have published in the Federal Register a notice of intent to prepare an environmental statement as soon as is practicable after the determination to prepare such a statement.