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SAFETEA-LU’S EFFICIENT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS FOR PROJECT DECISIONMAKING Final Guidance 11/15/06.

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Presentation on theme: "SAFETEA-LU’S EFFICIENT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS FOR PROJECT DECISIONMAKING Final Guidance 11/15/06."— Presentation transcript:

1 SAFETEA-LU’S EFFICIENT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS FOR PROJECT DECISIONMAKING Final Guidance 11/15/06

2 AGENDA 1.Project Initiation 2.Lead Agency 3.Participating Agencies 4.Opportunity for Input 5.Process Management 6.Notice on Limitations 7.Next Steps 8.Q & As

3 Project Initiation What it is and is not –A letter of project initiation is for projects using 6002 Environmental Review Process. –The letter of project initiation must contain; type of work, termini, length, location and expected permits. An indication of the timeframe for the Environmental Review Process to begin. –The official notice to the Division to begin the Environmental Review Process.

4 Project Initiation What it is and is not –Can be NOI, if NOI has all information and is submitted to Division Administrator. –Not the usual NOI. The NOI is still sent to the FR. Letter of Project Initiation is not. –Must come from responsible official authorized to sign the EIS.

5 When? Send Letter of Project Initiation before NOI and after a thorough evaluation that the project is “real”. Have firm commitment to initiate the project through the Environmental Review Process. Initiate in planning if all of the needed information is known. Can be used Programmatically

6 How to Start Letter must come from official at project agency sponsor authorized to sign EISs for the sponsor agency. Hard copy or ed, but must have a signature. Identification of participating agencies, and development of a coordination plan should proceed shortly after receipt of letter, if haven’t done so already.

7 Roles and Responsibilities of NEPA Joint Lead Agencies CEQ defined responsibilities –Shall supervise the preparation of an EIS –Federal, State, or local agencies may act as joint lead agencies SAFETEA-LU defined responsibilities –Identify and involve participating agencies –Develop coordination plans –Provide opportunities for public and agency involvement in purpose & need, range of alternatives –Collaborate with agencies in determining methodologies and detail for alternatives analyses –Provide oversight in managing process, resolving issues

8 What’s New and Intent Changes from Draft to Final Guidance –Sub recipients of Federal funds not a mandatory non-Federal lead agency, discretion to invite –US DOT agencies do not reserve final decision making authority. Joint leads have mutual veto Intent:emphasize responsibilities in collaboration with other joint leads and to perform tasks and make decisions jointly or by allocation among joint leads

9 Who should be the Joint Leads? FHWA must be the Federal lead agency The recipient of Federal funds must be a lead agency –State DOT agency –Discretion to invite local sponsors Indian Tribes –As a sponsor, on tribal land, or where approval is required –Discretion to invite

10 Joint Lead Non-Federal Agency Responsibilities Jointly assume lead role Jointly assume lead responsibilities Jointly assume authority of a lead agency under Section 6002

11 FHWA’s role as Lead Federal Agency Strengthens management and facilitation role of FHWA Responsible for overall direction of Environmental Review Process and expediting delivery of transportation project Enforce schedules, facilitate resolution of issues, acting to ensure the Environmental Review Process is timely

12 Manage Process and Resolve Issues Joint Lead Oversight –Shared commitment to project –Partnership in responsibilities –Collaborative and coordinated decision making –Timely consideration and resolution of issues –Individual lead agency commitment to provide expertise to identify concerns and resolve conflicts

13 Roles & Responsibilities of Participating Agencies Participate in the environmental review process – EARLY!!! – Development of Purpose & Need – Range of Alternatives – Methodologies – Level of Detail for Analysis of Alternatives Identify issues of concern Provide meaningful & timely input on issues Participate in Scoping process

14 What’s New Agencies with only a tangential, speculative, or remote interest need not be invited Lead Agencies must mutually decide on which Agencies to be invited Participating Agencies may have to determine which projects are priorities and allocate resources accordingly

15 Who Should be Participating Agencies Federal, State, Tribal, Regional, & Local Government Agencies that have an interest in the project should be invited NGO’s & Private Entities cannot serve as Participating Agencies Each State may develop a comprehensive list of agencies with permitting authority, special expertise, or interest

16 Who Determines Participating Agency Status & Invitation Process Lead Agencies collectively decide on agencies and also on who will do invitations USDOT Agency responsible for Native American Tribal Government invitations. Practices for inviting Participating Agencies may vary from State to State.

17 Details on Invitations to Potential Participating Agencies Invitations sent at or after project Notice of Initiation –Hardcopy / letter Includes basic project description & map of project location Tracked to ensure delivery – IMPORTANT!!! Clearly requests involvement of Agency & reason why Agency needs to participate. Specify deadline for responding to invitation (no more then 30 Days)

18 What is Involved in Accepting / Declining Status Invitation should request response on either acceptance / declination Federal Agency invited to participate “MUST” participate unless Agency declines in writing by specified deadline (per SAFETEA-LU)

19 When Agencies decline or fail to participate fully Intent of involvement is to allow for early & timely input on Issues of Concern Expectations and commitments on Agency participation should be addressed in Coordination Plan If Agency has no jurisdiction or permit authority, Lead Agencies can document “ No Comment” and Move Forward Where Agency participation is critical, informal or formal dispute resolution procedures may be an option

20 Opportunity for Input Who? Participating agencies and the public What? Development of - Project Purpose and Need - Range of Alternatives

21 When? Early in project development process, but there is flexibility in timing of involvement. Lead agencies must agree on form and timing. How? Opportunity must be publicized … … public workshops, web sites, printed material, etc * Timing and form of this involvement is established in Project Coordination Plan Opportunity for Input

22 The Lead Agencies … … after consideration of the public and participating agency input. Lead agencies’ decision and the considerations should be documented and shared with participating agencies. Who makes final decision?

23 Determination of methodologies and level of detail for analysis of alternatives. Consensus not required but lead agencies must consider the relevant views of participating agencies. Project-by-project, program or region- wide basis, as deemed appropriate. Final decision made by Lead Agencies Collaboration with Participating Agencies

24 May be developed to a higher level of detail, once it has been determined Must not prevent an impartial decision on the appropriate course of action Is necessary to facilitate development of -mitigation measures or -concurrent compliance with other environmental laws. Request to develop to higher level of detail initiated by non-Federal lead agency sponsor and needs to include various information. Preferred Alternative

25 Lead agency is responsible for its preparationLead agency is responsible for its preparation Must address how coordination and communication with agencies & public would occurMust address how coordination and communication with agencies & public would occur Needs to be developed earlyNeeds to be developed early Must afford participating agencies review/comment before plan is finalizedMust afford participating agencies review/comment before plan is finalized Must be made available to publicMust be made available to public May incorporate existing procedures and existing/new agreementMay incorporate existing procedures and existing/new agreement Coordination Plan

26 Lays out plan for coordination of all NEPA aspects, including the post-NEPA permit processLays out plan for coordination of all NEPA aspects, including the post-NEPA permit process Essential for streamlining processEssential for streamlining process Some elements of plan may be established programmatically by lead agency to provide greater predictabilitySome elements of plan may be established programmatically by lead agency to provide greater predictability Early initial coordination plan should be revised as necessary as issues become clearer Early initial coordination plan should be revised as necessary as issues become clearer Coordination Plan

27 FHWA Vital Few Goal-All EAs and EISs must have schedulesFHWA Vital Few Goal-All EAs and EISs must have schedules In development of schedule:In development of schedule: -must consult with participating agencies -need to consider many factors (complexity of project, resources impacted, responsibilities of participating agencies) Schedule

28 Project major milestones - Critical for successful project managementProject major milestones - Critical for successful project management Must include deadlines & timeframes (30 days) for agencies’ reviews and inputMust include deadlines & timeframes (30 days) for agencies’ reviews and input Schedule can be modified, as needed:Schedule can be modified, as needed: -lengthened for good cause -shortened only with concurrence of participating agencies Schedule

29 Where working effective and efficiently, may continue and be incorporated into coordination plan and schedule.Where working effective and efficiently, may continue and be incorporated into coordination plan and schedule. -May be used for coordination only with signatories of agreement. -Agencies, and the public, not part of existing agreement, need to be granted opportunities for involvement as provided by SAFETEA-LU process. Existing Agreements

30 Existing process may need to be updated to include participating agenciesExisting process may need to be updated to include participating agencies -Existing process may need to be updated to include opportunity for public input in purpose and need and range of alternatives -Existing process may be incorporated into coordination plan Public Involvement Process

31 Limitation on Claims Notices 23 U.S.C. 139 (/)

32 Advance Preparations Mention SOL in draft and final documents as “early warning” of possible useMention SOL in draft and final documents as “early warning” of possible use Be clear in documents about decisions made under Federal lawsBe clear in documents about decisions made under Federal laws Be Strategic in using noticeBe Strategic in using notice –Right project? –Right timing? Make sure project records are easily retrievable if neededMake sure project records are easily retrievable if needed

33 Preparing to Publish Who decided?Who decided? What did they decide?What did they decide? Under which Federal law(s)?Under which Federal law(s)? Is the decision final?Is the decision final? Do the affected Federal agencies agree their decisions are final?Do the affected Federal agencies agree their decisions are final? What does the State think?What does the State think?

34 Notice Drafting Tips Think like the notice readerThink like the notice reader Answer core questionsAnswer core questions –Who? –Did what? –By what means? –When? –Under which Federal law? –Where can more information be obtained? Be conciseBe concise Consult with Field CounselConsult with Field Counsel

35 Resources Available SAFETEA-LU Environmental Review Process Final Guidance FHWA Office of Project Development & Environmental Review Staff Website:

36 Next Steps (1)Upcoming webinars: January 11 2:00-3:30EST; January 30 2:00-3:30 EST (2) CTE broadcast: with FTA –late Feb/early March (3) Toolkit under development located on FHWA website: Checklist-on FHWA website: (4) Contact HQ Program Office or Division Offices with questions (5) TRB session on SAFETEA-LU Sunday Jan. 21(8:30-12:00) Hilton Hotel

37 6002 Quiz I The project initiation letter is just the same information in the NOI, but it is required. Participating agencies are the same as cooperating agencies. Sponsoring agencies who receive FHWA money must be joint lead agencies.

38 6002 Quiz II Participating agencies provide input in the development of the initiation letter and the purpose and need. The public may review and comment on the range of alternatives but not the purpose and need.

39 6002 Quiz III The coordination plan’s focus is to develop the participation of agencies and is the responsibility of the joint lead agencies. The limitation of claims that initiates a 180 day period after a Federal Register notice is required for all RODs made after August 10, 2005.


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