7 CFR § 650.11 - Environmental documents.

§ 650.11 Environmental documents.

(a) NRCS is to use the following documents in compliance with NEPA (see § 650.4):

(1) Environmental assessments (EA)

(2) Environmental impact statements (EIS)

(3) Notice of intent (NOI)

(4) Finding of no significant impact (FNSI)

(5) Record of decision (ROD)

(b) The format and content of each document is to be appropriate to the action being considered and consistent with the CEQ regulations.

(1) To reduce duplication, NRCS may combine environmental documents with other planning documents of the same proposal, as appropriate. For example, NRCS, in consultation with CEQ and the office of the Secretary of Agriculture, has determined that each EIS is to satisfy the requirements for a regulatory impact analysis as required by Executive Order 12044. This may necessitate modifying the recommended CEQ format. If documents are combined, the RFO is to include the information and sections required by the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1502.10). The environmental impact statement should indicate those considerations, including factors not related to environmental quality, that are likely to be relevant to a decision.

(2) The RFO is to establish the format and content of each document giving full consideration to the guidance and requirements of the CEQ regulations. The NRCS technical service center director is to provide guidance and concurrence on the format and content if the NRCS state conservationist is the RFO. The results of scoping are to determine the content of the EA or the EIS and the amount of detail needed to analyze the impacts.

(3) In addition to the minimum requirements of the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1502.10), environmental assessments and environmental impact statements are to include—

(i) A brief description of public participation activities of agencies, groups, and individuals during the environmental evaluation;

(ii) A description of the hazard potential of each alternative, including an explanation of the rationale for dam classification and the risk of dam failure from overtopping for other causes;

(iii) Information identifying any approved regional plans for water resource management in the study area (40 CFR 1506.2(d)) and a statement on whether the proposed project is consistent with such plans;

(iv) All Federal permits, licenses, and other entitlements that must be obtained (40 CFR 1502.25(b)); and

(v) A brief description of major environmental problems, conflicts, and disagreements among groups and agencies and how they were resolved. Unresolved conflicts and the NRCS's proposal for resolving the disagreements before the project is implemented are to be summarized.

(4) Letters of comment and responses. (40 CFR 1503.4, 1502.9(b)) Letters of comment that were received and the responses to these comments are to appended to the final EIS. Opposing views and other substantive comments that were not adequately discussed in the draft EIS are to be incorporated in the final EIS.

(5) Appendix. The RFO may use an appendix to an EA or EIS. If an appendix is too voluminous to be circulated with the EIS, the RFO is to make it available on request. If an appendix is included it is to—

(i) Meet the requirements of 40 CFR 1502.18;

(ii) Identify any methodologies used (40 CFR 1502.24) and make explicit reference to other sources relied on for conclusions; and

(iii) Briefly describe the relationship between the benefit-cost analysis and any analyses of unquantified environmental impacts, values, and amenities. “For purposes of complying with the Act, the weighing of the merits or drawbacks of the various alternatives need not be displayed in a monetary cost benefit and should not be when these are important qualitative considerations.” (40 CFR 1502.23).