Project studies shall be subject to a peer review by an independent panel of experts as determined under this section.
The peer review may include a review of the economic and environmental assumptions and projections, project evaluation data, economic analyses, environmental analyses, engineering analyses, formulation of alternative plans, methods for integrating risk and uncertainty, models used in evaluation of economic or environmental impacts of proposed projects, and any biological opinions of the project study.
A project study shall be considered by the Chief of Engineers for peer review under this section if the head of a Federal or State agency charged with reviewing the project study determines that the project is likely to have a significant adverse impact on environmental, cultural, or other resources under the jurisdiction of the agency after implementation of proposed mitigation plans and requests a peer review by an independent panel of experts.
A decision of the Chief of Engineers under this subparagraph whether to conduct a peer review shall be made within 21 days of the date of receipt of the request by the head of the Federal or State agency under clause (i).
If the Chief of Engineers decides not to conduct a peer review following a request under clause (i), the Chief shall make publicly available, including on the Internet, the reasons for not conducting the peer review.
A decision by the Chief of Engineers not to conduct a peer review following a request under clause (i) shall be subject to appeal by a person referred to in clause (i) to the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality if such appeal is made within the 30-day period following the date of the decision being made available under clause (iii). A decision of the Chairman on an appeal under this clause shall be made within 30 days of the date of the appeal.
For purposes of determining the estimated total cost of a project under paragraph (3)(A), the total cost shall be based upon the reasonable estimates of the Chief of Engineers at the completion of the reconnaissance study for the project. If the reasonable estimate of total costs is subsequently determined to be in excess of the amount in paragraph (3)(A), the Chief of Engineers shall make a determination whether a project study is required to be reviewed under this section.
The Chief of Engineers shall determine the timing of a peer review of a project study under subsection (a). In all cases, the peer review shall occur during the period beginning on the date of the signing of the feasibility cost-sharing agreement for the study and ending on the date established under subsection (e)(1)(A) for the peer review and shall be accomplished concurrent with the conducting of the project study.
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require the Chief of Engineers to conduct multiple peer reviews for a project study.
For each project study subject to peer review under subsection (a), as soon as practicable after the Chief of Engineers determines that a project study will be subject to peer review, the Chief of Engineers shall contract with the National Academy of Sciences or a similar independent scientific and technical advisory organization or an eligible organization to establish a panel of experts to conduct a peer review for the project study.
A panel of experts established for a project study under this section shall be composed of independent experts who represent a balance of areas of expertise suitable for the review being conducted.
The National Academy of Sciences or any other organization the Chief of Engineers contracts with under paragraph (1) to establish a panel of experts shall apply the National Academy of Science’s policy for selecting committee members to ensure that members selected for the panel of experts have no conflict with the project being reviewed.
If a panel of experts does not complete its peer review of a project study under this section and submit a report to the Chief of Engineers under subsection (d)(5) on or before the deadline established by paragraph (1) for the peer review, the Chief of Engineers shall complete the project study without delay.
After receiving a report on a project study from a panel of experts under this section and before entering a final record of decision for the project, the Chief of Engineers shall consider any recommendations contained in the report and prepare a written response for any recommendations adopted or not adopted.
Not later than 3 years after November 8, 2007, the Chief of Engineers shall submit to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report on the implementation of this section.
Not later than 6 years after November 8, 2007, the Chief of Engineers shall update the report under paragraph (1) taking into account any further information on implementation of this section and submit such updated report to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.
Chapter 10 of title 5 shall not apply to a peer review panel established under this section.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any authority of the Chief of Engineers to cause or conduct a peer review of a water resources project existing on November 8, 2007.
The term “affected State”, as used with respect to a water resources project, means a State all or a portion of which is within the drainage basin in which the project is or would be located and would be economically or environmentally affected as a consequence of the project.
The term “total cost”, as used with respect to a water resources project, means the cost of construction (including planning and designing) of the project. In the case of a project for hurricane and storm damage reduction or flood damage reduction that includes periodic nourishment over the life of the project, the term includes the total cost of the nourishment.