7 CFR § 799.33 - Extraordinary circumstances.

§ 799.33 Extraordinary circumstances.

(a) As specified in 40 CFR 1508.4, in the definition of categorical exclusion, procedures are required to provide for extraordinary circumstances in which a normally categorically excluded action may have a significant environmental effect. The presence and impacts of extraordinary circumstances require heightened review of proposed actions that would otherwise be categorically excluded. Extraordinary circumstances include, but are not limited to:

(1) Scientific controversy about environmental effects of the proposed action;

(2) Impacts that are potentially adverse, significant, uncertain, or involve unique or unknown risks, including, but not limited to, impacts to protected resources. Protected resources include, but are not limited to:

(i) Property (for example, sites, buildings, structures, and objects) of historic, archeological, or architectural significance, as designated by Federal, Tribal, State, or local governments, or property eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places;

(ii) Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their habitat (including critical habitat), or Federally-proposed or candidate species or their habitat;

(iii) Important or prime agricultural, forest, or range lands, as specified in part 657 of this chapter and in USDA Departmental Regulation 9500-3;

(iv) Wetlands, waters of the United States, as regulated under the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344), highly erodible land, or floodplains;

(v) Areas having a special designation, such as Federally- and State-designated wilderness areas, national parks, national natural landmarks, wild and scenic rivers, State and Federal wildlife refuges, and marine sanctuaries; and

(vi) Special sources of water, such as sole-source aquifers, wellhead protection areas, or other water sources that are vital in a region;

(3) A proposed action that is also “connected” (as specified in 40 CFR 1508.25(a)(1)) to other actions with potential impacts;

(4) A proposed action that is related to other proposed actions with cumulative impacts (40 CFR 1508.25(a)(2));

(5) A proposed action that does not comply with 40 CFR 1506.1, “Limitations on actions during NEPA process;” and

(6) A proposed action that violates any existing Federal, State, or local government law, policy, or requirements (for example, wetland laws, Clean Water Act-related requirements, water rights).

(b) FSA will use the ESW to review proposed actions that are eligible for categorical exclusion to determine if extraordinary circumstances exist that could impact protected resources. If an extraordinary circumstance exists, and cannot be avoided or appropriately mitigated, an EA or EIS will be prepared, as specified in this part. Specifically, FSA will complete a review with the ESW for proposed actions that fall within the list of categorical exclusions specified in § 799.32 to determine whether extraordinary circumstances are present.

(c) For any proposed actions that have the potential to cause effects to historic properties, endangered species, waters of the United States, wetlands, and other protected resources, FSA will ensure appropriate analyses is completed to comply with the following mandates:

(1) For section 106 of the NHPA (54 U.S.C. 306108), the regulations in 36 CFR part 800, “Protection of Historic Properties;” if an authorized technical representative from another Federal agency assists with compliance with 36 CFR part 800, FSA will remain responsible for any consultation with SHPO, THPO, or Tribal governments;

(2) For section 7 of the ESA that governs the protection of Federally proposed, threatened and endangered species and their designated and proposed critical habitats; and

(3) For the Clean Water Act and related Executive Order provisions for avoiding impacts to wetlands and waters of the United States, including impaired waters listed under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.

(d) If technical assistance is provided by another Federal agency, FSA will ensure that the environmental documentation provided is commensurate to or exceeds the requirements of the FSA ESW. If it is not, a review with an ESW is needed to determine if an EA or EIS is warranted.