7 CFR § 520.6 - Preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA).
(a) Actions requiring EA. The following actions would normally require an EA:
(1) Programs, supported in the majority by ARS, which may assist in the transition of a particular technology from field evaluation stage to large-scale demonstration or simulated commercial phase;
(2) Field work having an impact on the local environment such as earth excavation, explosives, weather modifications, or other such techniques; and
(3) The testing outside the laboratory, such as small isolated field plots, of control agents which require containment precautions or either a special license or a permit from a regulatory agency.
(b) Multiple agencies actions. If more than one Federal agency participates in a program activity, the EA shall be prepared by the lead agency as provided in 40 CFR 1501.5.
(c) Format and conclusion. An EA can be in any format provided it covers in a logical and succinct fashion the information necessary for determining whether a proposed Federal action may have a significant environmental impact and thus warrant preparation of an EIS. The EA will contain the information required by 40 CFR 1508.9. This information will include brief discussions of the need for the project or other proposal, alternatives, environmental impacts of the proposed action and alternatives and a listing of agencies and persons consulted.
(d) Decision notice. Upon completion of an EA, the responsible official will consider the information it contains, decide whether an EIS is required or that no significant environmental impact will occur, and will document the decision and the reasons for it. The decision and the EA shall be available to the public in a manner appropriate to the situation. If there is a finding of no significant impact, the EA may be combined with the decision notice.