7 CFR § 650.7 - When to prepare an EIS.

§ 650.7 When to prepare an EIS.

The following are categories of NRCS action used to determine whether or not an EIS is to be prepared.

(a) An EIS is required for:

(1) Projects that include stream channel realignment or work to modify channel capacity by deepening or widening where significant aquatic or wildlife habitat exists. The EE will determine if the channel supports significant aquatic or wildlife habitat;

(2) Projects requiring Congressional action;

(3) Broad Federal assistance programs administered by NRCS when the environmental evaluation indicates there may be significant cumulative impacts on the human environment (§ 650.7(e)); and

(4) Other major Federal actions that are determined after environmental evaluation to affect significantly the quality of the human environment (§ 650.7(b)). If it is difficult to determine whether there is a significant impact on the human environment, it may be necessary to complete the EE and prepare an EA in order to decide if an EIS is required.

(b) The RFO is to determine the need for an EIS for each action, program, or regulation. An environmental evaluation, using a systematic interdisciplinary analysis and evaluation of data and information responding to the five provisions of Section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, will assist the RFO in deciding if the action requires the preparation of an EIS. In analyzing and evaluating environmental concerns, the RFO will answer the following questions:

(1) Environmental impact. Will the proposed action significantly affect the quality of the human environment (40 CFR 1508.14)? For example, will it significantly alter or destroy valuable wetlands, important farmlands, cultural resources, or threatened and endangered species? Will it affect social values, water quality, fish and wildlife habitats, or wilderness and scenic areas?

(2) Adverse environmental effects that cannot be avoided. What are the important environmental amenities that would be lost if the proposed action were implemented?

(3) Alternatives. Are there alternatives that would achieve the planning objectives but avoid adverse environmental effects?

(4) Short-term uses versus long-term productivity. Will the proposed actions, in combination with other actions, sacrifice the enhancement of significant long-term productivity as a tradeoff for short-term uses?

(5) Commitment of resources. Will the proposed action irreversibly and irretrievably commit the use of resources such as important farmlands, wetlands, and fish and wildlife habitat?

(c) Criteria for determining the need for a program EIS:

(1) A program EIS is required if the environmental evaluation reveals that actions carried out under the program have individually insignificant but cumulatively significant environmental impacts.

(2) A project EIS, in lieu of a program EIS, is required if the environmental evaluation reveals that actions carried out under the program will have both individually and cumulatively significant environmental impacts. (7 CFR Parts 620 through 623 and 640 through 643).

(d) The RFO, through the process of tiering, is to determine if a site-specific EA or EIS is required for an individually significant action that is included in a program EIS.