Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act Guidance, 60137-60139 [2020-21044]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 186 / Thursday, September 24, 2020 / Notices Frequency of Collection: Ongoing. There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection. (Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) Dated: September, 21, 2020. Robert Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2020–21096 Filed 9–23–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351–01–P is unlikely to have significant effects and might require preparation of an environmental assessment or application of a categorical exclusion. DATES: This guidance is effective on September 14, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Sharp, Principal Deputy Associate Director for NEPA, 202–395– 5750, Thomas.L.Sharp2@ceq.eop.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Guidance No. CEQ–NEPA–2020–01 COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Sunshine Act Meetings 10:30 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, September 30, 2020. PLACE: This meeting will be convened on a conference call. STATUS: Closed. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: Enforcement matters. In the event that the time, date, or location of this meeting changes, an announcement of the change, along with the new time, date, and/or place of the meeting will be posted on the Commission’s website at https://www.cftc.gov/. CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION: Christopher Kirkpatrick, 202–418–5964. TIME AND DATE: Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552b. Dated: September 21, 2020. Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2020–21131 Filed 9–22–20; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 6351–01–P COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act Guidance Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: On September 14, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued guidance, CEQ–NEPA– 2020–01, in a memorandum to the heads of Federal departments and agencies (agencies) to assist agencies with compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during emergencies. The CEQ regulations implementing NEPA provide for alternative arrangements during emergencies when an agency’s action is likely to have significant effects and would require preparation of an environmental impact statement. This guidance also addresses compliance with NEPA when the action SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Sep 23, 2020 Jkt 250001 Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies From: Mary B. Neumayr, Chairman. Subject: Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act Guidance. This guidance 1 updates and replaces previous guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on the environmental review of proposed emergency response actions under the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321–4347 (NEPA).2 Federal departments and agencies (agencies) should distribute this guidance as part of their general guidance on emergency actions to agency offices that are or may become involved in developing and taking actions in response to emergencies. As agencies respond to situations involving immediate threats to human health or safety, or immediate threats to valuable natural resources, they must consider whether there is sufficient time to follow the procedures for environmental review established in the CEQ National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations, 40 CFR parts 1500–1508 (CEQ NEPA regulations),3 and their agency NEPA procedures. This guidance does not establish new requirements. CEQ established the regulation addressing alternative arrangements in emergency circumstances in 1978,4 and amended it in 2020 to clarify that it provides for alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA section 102(2)(C) (42 U.S.C. 4332(C)).5 40 CFR 1506.12. CEQ has approved, and agencies have applied successfully, numerous alternative arrangements to allow a wide range of 1 The contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This memorandum is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. 2 This guidance replaces guidance issued by CEQ on September 29, 2016, May 12, 2010, and September 8, 2005. CEQ rescinds the prior guidance. 3 https://ceq.doe.gov/laws-regulations/ regulations.html. 4 43 FR 55977, Nov. 29, 1978. 5 85 FR 43304, July 16, 2020. PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60137 proposed actions in emergency circumstances including natural disasters, catastrophic wildfires, threats to species and their habitat, economic crisis, infectious disease outbreaks, potential dam failures, and insect infestations.6 Attachment 1 provides agencies with a step-by-step process for determining the appropriate path forward for the NEPA environmental review of all actions proposed in response to an emergency situation. Environmental Impact Statements The CEQ regulations, at 40 CFR 1506.12, provide for alternative arrangements for NEPA compliance in emergency situations when the agency proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts and would require an environmental impact statement (EIS) if the situation were not an emergency: Where emergency circumstances make it necessary to take an action with significant environmental impact without observing the provisions of the regulations in [parts 1500– 1508], the Federal agency taking the action should consult with the Council about alternative arrangements for compliance with section 102(2)(C) of NEPA. Agencies and the Council will limit such arrangements to actions necessary to control the immediate impacts of the emergency. Other actions remain subject to NEPA review. Agencies develop these alternative arrangements, based on emergencyspecific facts and circumstances, during consultation with CEQ. The alternative arrangements developed by an agency address the actions necessary to respond immediately to the impacts of an emergency. The long-term response to the emergency, including recovery actions, remains subject to the regular NEPA process set forth in the CEQ NEPA regulations. Alternative arrangements do not waive the requirement to comply with the statute, but establish an alternative means for NEPA compliance. Alternative arrangements also do not complete or alter other environmental requirements (except as provided by other environmental statutes or regulations); however, engaging other resource and regulatory agencies about other environmental requirements during development and implementation of alternative arrangements can facilitate meeting other compliance requirements. Final agency action taken pursuant to alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA under 40 CFR 1506.12 may 6 A synopsis of previous alternative arrangements is available at https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa-practice/ alternative_arrangements.html. E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 60138 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 186 / Thursday, September 24, 2020 / Notices be subject to judicial review if a statute, such as the Administrative Procedure Act, provides for such review. Attachment 1 describes the factors for an agency to address when requesting and designing alternative arrangements. Once the agency develops the alternative arrangements, CEQ will provide documentation detailing the alternative arrangements and the considerations on which they are based. Environmental Assessments When agencies are considering proposals with less than significant impacts or are uncertain about the significance of impacts, the agency can prepare a concise, focused environmental assessment (EA). Attachment 2 of this memorandum provides guidance for preparing an EA. Some agency NEPA procedures provide processes for preparing EAs for emergency actions.7 Agencies must continue their efforts to notify and inform the affected public and relevant Federal, State, Tribal, and local agency representatives of the Federal agency activities and proposed actions. Agencies must comply with the CEQ NEPA regulatory requirements for content, interagency coordination, and public involvement to the extent practicable.8 Attachment 1 Emergency Actions Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) In the case of an emergency: 1. Do not delay immediate actions necessary to secure lives and safety of citizens or to protect valuable resources. Consult with CEQ as soon as feasible. Please coordinate any communications with your Federal agency NEPA contacts. See https://ceq.doe.gov/nepapractice/agency-nepa-contacts.html. 2. Determine if NEPA applies and the appropriate level of NEPA analysis: D Determine if a Federal agency is taking the proposed action (e.g., city or State action does not trigger NEPA; Federal decisions to fund city or State 7 See Agency NEPA procedures, for example: Department of Homeland Security Instruction Manual 023–01–001–01, Revision 01 at VI–1, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/ publications/DHS_Instruction%20Manual%2002301-001-01%20Rev%2001_ 508%20Admin%20Rev.pdf; U.S. Forest Service, 36 CFR 220.4(b), http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/nepa_ procedures/includes/fr_nepa_procedures_2008_07_ 24.pdf; and Department of the Interior, 43 CFR 46.150, https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retriev eECFR?gp=&SID=2a2ce144c79da6f3e773bfa9cdf 17bcf&mc=true&n=sp43.1.46.b&r=SUBPART&ty= HTML#se43.1.46_1150. 8 40 CFR 1501.5, 1501.6, and 1506.6 (these regulations address required content and public involvement for preparing EAs and Findings of No Significant Impact). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Sep 23, 2020 Jkt 250001 action may trigger NEPA, depending on the nature of the funding arrangements) or is exempt from NEPA (e.g., certain Federal Emergency Management Agency response actions under the Stafford Act are statutorily exempt from NEPA; additional information is available at https://www.fema.gov/media-librarydata/20130726-1748-25045-1063/ stafford_act_nepa_fact_sheet_ 072409.pdf.). D If the Federal agency’s proposed emergency response activity is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, and the agency has a categorical exclusion (CE) that includes that type of activity, then apply the CE unless there are extraordinary circumstances that indicate using the CE in this particular case is not appropriate. Agency NEPA personnel can assist in identifying agency-specific actions that are categorically excluded. D If the proposed Federal agency emergency response activity is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, a CE is not available, and the agency does not expect the potential environmental impacts of the proposed response activity to be significant, then an environmental assessment (EA) is appropriate. Prepare a focused, concise EA as described in Attachment 2. Alternative arrangements, as outlined at 40 CFR 1506.12, do not apply because the environmental impacts are not expected to be significant. Agency NEPA personnel can assist in identifying agency-specific actions that typically require an EA. D If the proposed Federal emergency response activity is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, and the agency expects it would have significant environmental impacts, the agency should determine whether an existing NEPA analysis covers the activity (e.g., implementing pre-existing spill response plans). If so, the agency may rely upon its existing analysis or adopt the analysis of another agency consistent with 40 CFR 1506.3. D If the proposed Federal emergency response activity is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, the agency expects it to have significant environmental impacts, and an existing NEPA analysis does not cover the activity, then the agency should consult with CEQ to determine whether alternative arrangements can take the place of an EIS. Contact CEQ to develop alternative arrangements under 40 CFR 1506.12. CEQ’s main phone number is (202) 395– 5750. 3. Factors to address when requesting and designing alternative arrangements include the: D Nature and scope of the emergency; PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 D Actions necessary to control the immediate impacts of the emergency; D Potential adverse effects of the proposed action; D Components of the NEPA process that the agency can follow and provide value to decision making (e.g., coordination with affected agencies and the public); D Duration of the emergency; and D Potential mitigation measures. Attachment 2 Preparing Focused, Concise and Timely Environmental Assessments An agency can prepare a concise and focused EA in a short time in those situations where: D There is no statutory exemption from NEPA requirements; D There is no CE available, either because the agency has none that cover the activity or there are extraordinary circumstances; D An existing NEPA analysis (EA or EIS) does not cover the proposed recovery or response actions; and D The environmental impacts of the proposed recovery or response actions are not likely to be significant. The following outline with notations addresses the core elements of an EA as required by 40 CFR 1501.5: D The purpose and need for the proposed action; D Alternatives as required by NEPA section 102(2)(E); D The description of environmental impacts of the proposed action and the alternatives; and D The list of agencies and persons consulted. Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action The agency should briefly describe information that substantiates the purpose and need for the action and incorporate by reference information that is reasonably available to the public. For example, ‘‘This agency is preparing to erect a temporary emergency response facility to replace facilities disrupted or destroyed by the [hurricane/flooding/contamination/etc.] to facilitate rescue or relief efforts in an effort to [minimize further adverse health conditions/restore communications/restore power].’’ The agency should briefly describe the existing conditions and the projected future conditions of the area impacted by the action. For example, ‘‘The area(s) in which the temporary facility will be located or relocated is identified in the attached map. This area consists of [add brief description of the environmental state of the area that will E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 186 / Thursday, September 24, 2020 / Notices be affected by the location and operation of the facility, focusing on those areas that are potentially sensitive. The goal is to show that environmental effects have been considered and the facts found indicate no significant impact (for example, refueling sites are not on top of aquifers, nesting areas, graves, sacred sites, etc.). These are examples to show the utility of and need to identify actual place-based environmental issues rather than compiling lists of environmental resources not at issue].’’ Proposed Action and Alternatives The agency should list and briefly describe its proposed action and reasonable alternatives that meet the purpose and need. The agency must use its discretion to ensure the number and range of reasonable alternatives is reasoned and not arbitrary or capricious. The purpose and need for the proposed action and its environmental impacts should focus the alternatives. For example, the need to use existing infrastructure necessary to support the facility is a reasoned basis for focusing on a discrete number of alternatives. When there is no conflict over the resource effects of the proposed action based on input from interested parties, the agency can consider the proposed action and proceed without consideration of additional alternatives. Otherwise, the agency must identify reasonable alternatives that meet the action’s purpose and need, consistent with section 102(2)(E) of NEPA. Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action and Alternatives The agency should describe the environmental impacts of its proposed action and each alternative. The description should provide enough information to support a determination to either prepare an EIS or a finding of no significant impact. The agency should focus on whether the action would significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The agency should follow CEQ’s NEPA regulations in considering whether the effects of a proposed action are significant. 40 CFR 1501.3. Agency NEPA contacts and contacts at resource agencies can assist in this effort. Tailor the length of the discussion to the complexity of each issue. Focus on those human and natural environment issues where impacts are a concern. Telephone or email discussions with State, Tribal, and local governments and agencies, and other Federal agencies that operate in the area, will help focus those issues. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:00 Sep 23, 2020 Jkt 250001 The agency must discuss the impacts of each alternative and may discuss those impacts together in a comparative description, or discuss each alternative separately. The agency should use the approach that will be most effective in the time available. The agency may contrast the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives with the current condition and expected future condition in the absence of the action. This constitutes consideration of a no action alternative as well as demonstrating the need for the action. The agency should incorporate by reference data, inventories, other information, and analyses relied on in the EA. CEQ encourages the use of hyperlinks in web-based documents. This information must be reasonably available to the public. For example, include relevant existing programmatic agreements and generally accepted best management practices. The agency should be clear and concise about its conclusions and their bases. List of Agencies and Persons Consulted The agency must involve the public, relevant agencies, and any applicants, to the extent practicable in preparing EAs, and list the agencies and persons consulted. For example, include the people, offices, and agencies that the agency coordinated with to ensure that the location of the action did not cause unintentionally an adverse impact. Also include information about individuals consulted to comply with substantive environmental requirements and regulations, for example: The Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). [Note that the ESA emergency provisions at 50 CFR 402.05 may be applicable to the proposed action.] Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4321–4347; 42 U.S.C. 4371–4375. Mary B. Neumayr, Chairman. [FR Doc. 2020–21044 Filed 9–23–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3225–F0–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Assessment Governing Board Meetings National Assessment Governing Board, Department of Education. ACTION: Announcement of open and closed virtual meetings. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60139 This notice sets forth the agenda for a National Assessment Governing Board (hereafter referred to as Governing Board) meeting in September 2020. This notice provides information to members of the public who may be interested in attending the meeting or providing written comments related to the work of the Governing Board. Notice of this meeting is required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Participation in the open sessions of the meeting is via advance online registration at www.nagb.gov, which will open five working days prior to September 29, 2020. DATES: The September 2020 meeting will be held on the following dates: Open Meeting: September 29, 2020 3:00–3:30 p.m. (ET) Closed Meeting, 3:45–5:15 p.m. (ET) FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Munira Mwalimu, Executive Officer/ Designated Federal Official for the Governing Board, 800 North Capitol Street NW, Suite 825, Washington, DC 20002, telephone: (202) 357–6938, fax: (202) 357–6945, email: Munira.Mwalimu@ed.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Statutory Authority and Function: The Governing Board is established under the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act, Title III of Public Law 107–279. Information on the Governing Board and its work can be found at www.nagb.gov. The Governing Board is established to formulate policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The Governing Board’s responsibilities include the following: (1) Selecting subject areas to be assessed; (2) developing assessment frameworks and specifications; (3) developing appropriate student achievement levels for each grade and subject tested; (4) developing standards and procedures for interstate and national comparisons; (5) improving the form and use of NAEP; (6) developing guidelines for reporting and disseminating results; and (7) releasing initial NAEP results to the public. Written comments related to the work of the Governing Board may be submitted electronically or in hard copy to the attention of the Executive Officer/ Designated Federal Official (see contact information noted above). Governing Board Full Meeting: Open Meeting: September 29, 2020: 3:00–3:30 p.m. (ET); Closed Meeting, 3:45–5:15 p.m. On September 29, 2020, the Governing Board will meet in open SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\24SEN1.SGM 24SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 186 (Thursday, September 24, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60137-60139]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-21044]


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COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY


Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act Guidance

AGENCY: Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: On September 14, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ) issued guidance, CEQ-NEPA-2020-01, in a memorandum to the heads 
of Federal departments and agencies (agencies) to assist agencies with 
compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during 
emergencies. The CEQ regulations implementing NEPA provide for 
alternative arrangements during emergencies when an agency's action is 
likely to have significant effects and would require preparation of an 
environmental impact statement. This guidance also addresses compliance 
with NEPA when the action is unlikely to have significant effects and 
might require preparation of an environmental assessment or application 
of a categorical exclusion.

DATES: This guidance is effective on September 14, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Sharp, Principal Deputy 
Associate Director for NEPA, 202-395-5750, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Guidance No. CEQ-NEPA-2020-01

Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies

    From: Mary B. Neumayr, Chairman.
    Subject: Emergencies and the National Environmental Policy Act 
Guidance.
    This guidance \1\ updates and replaces previous guidance from the 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on the environmental review of 
proposed emergency response actions under the National Environmental 
Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347 (NEPA).\2\ Federal departments and 
agencies (agencies) should distribute this guidance as part of their 
general guidance on emergency actions to agency offices that are or may 
become involved in developing and taking actions in response to 
emergencies.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The contents of this guidance do not have the force and 
effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This 
memorandum is intended only to provide clarity to the public 
regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.
    \2\ This guidance replaces guidance issued by CEQ on September 
29, 2016, May 12, 2010, and September 8, 2005. CEQ rescinds the 
prior guidance.
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    As agencies respond to situations involving immediate threats to 
human health or safety, or immediate threats to valuable natural 
resources, they must consider whether there is sufficient time to 
follow the procedures for environmental review established in the CEQ 
National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations, 40 CFR 
parts 1500-1508 (CEQ NEPA regulations),\3\ and their agency NEPA 
procedures.
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    \3\ https://ceq.doe.gov/laws-regulations/regulations.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This guidance does not establish new requirements. CEQ established 
the regulation addressing alternative arrangements in emergency 
circumstances in 1978,\4\ and amended it in 2020 to clarify that it 
provides for alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA section 
102(2)(C) (42 U.S.C. 4332(C)).\5\ 40 CFR 1506.12. CEQ has approved, and 
agencies have applied successfully, numerous alternative arrangements 
to allow a wide range of proposed actions in emergency circumstances 
including natural disasters, catastrophic wildfires, threats to species 
and their habitat, economic crisis, infectious disease outbreaks, 
potential dam failures, and insect infestations.\6\
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    \4\ 43 FR 55977, Nov. 29, 1978.
    \5\ 85 FR 43304, July 16, 2020.
    \6\ A synopsis of previous alternative arrangements is available 
at https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa-practice/alternative_arrangements.html.
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    Attachment 1 provides agencies with a step-by-step process for 
determining the appropriate path forward for the NEPA environmental 
review of all actions proposed in response to an emergency situation.
Environmental Impact Statements
    The CEQ regulations, at 40 CFR 1506.12, provide for alternative 
arrangements for NEPA compliance in emergency situations when the 
agency proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts 
and would require an environmental impact statement (EIS) if the 
situation were not an emergency:

    Where emergency circumstances make it necessary to take an 
action with significant environmental impact without observing the 
provisions of the regulations in [parts 1500-1508], the Federal 
agency taking the action should consult with the Council about 
alternative arrangements for compliance with section 102(2)(C) of 
NEPA. Agencies and the Council will limit such arrangements to 
actions necessary to control the immediate impacts of the emergency. 
Other actions remain subject to NEPA review.

    Agencies develop these alternative arrangements, based on 
emergency-specific facts and circumstances, during consultation with 
CEQ. The alternative arrangements developed by an agency address the 
actions necessary to respond immediately to the impacts of an 
emergency. The long-term response to the emergency, including recovery 
actions, remains subject to the regular NEPA process set forth in the 
CEQ NEPA regulations.
    Alternative arrangements do not waive the requirement to comply 
with the statute, but establish an alternative means for NEPA 
compliance. Alternative arrangements also do not complete or alter 
other environmental requirements (except as provided by other 
environmental statutes or regulations); however, engaging other 
resource and regulatory agencies about other environmental requirements 
during development and implementation of alternative arrangements can 
facilitate meeting other compliance requirements. Final agency action 
taken pursuant to alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA 
under 40 CFR 1506.12 may

[[Page 60138]]

be subject to judicial review if a statute, such as the Administrative 
Procedure Act, provides for such review.
    Attachment 1 describes the factors for an agency to address when 
requesting and designing alternative arrangements. Once the agency 
develops the alternative arrangements, CEQ will provide documentation 
detailing the alternative arrangements and the considerations on which 
they are based.
Environmental Assessments
    When agencies are considering proposals with less than significant 
impacts or are uncertain about the significance of impacts, the agency 
can prepare a concise, focused environmental assessment (EA). 
Attachment 2 of this memorandum provides guidance for preparing an EA. 
Some agency NEPA procedures provide processes for preparing EAs for 
emergency actions.\7\ Agencies must continue their efforts to notify 
and inform the affected public and relevant Federal, State, Tribal, and 
local agency representatives of the Federal agency activities and 
proposed actions. Agencies must comply with the CEQ NEPA regulatory 
requirements for content, interagency coordination, and public 
involvement to the extent practicable.\8\
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    \7\ See Agency NEPA procedures, for example: Department of 
Homeland Security Instruction Manual 023-01-001-01, Revision 01 at 
VI-1, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/DHS_Instruction%20Manual%20023-01-001-01%20Rev%2001_508%20Admin%20Rev.pdf; U.S. Forest Service, 36 CFR 
220.4(b), http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/nepa_procedures/includes/fr_nepa_procedures_2008_07_24.pdf; and Department of the Interior, 
43 CFR 46.150, https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=2a2ce144c79da6f3e773bfa9cdf17bcf&mc=true&n=sp43.1.46.b&r=SUBPART&ty=HTML#se43.1.46_1150.
    \8\ 40 CFR 1501.5, 1501.6, and 1506.6 (these regulations address 
required content and public involvement for preparing EAs and 
Findings of No Significant Impact).
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Attachment 1

Emergency Actions Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    In the case of an emergency:
    1. Do not delay immediate actions necessary to secure lives and 
safety of citizens or to protect valuable resources. Consult with CEQ 
as soon as feasible. Please coordinate any communications with your 
Federal agency NEPA contacts. See https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa-practice/agency-nepa-contacts.html.
    2. Determine if NEPA applies and the appropriate level of NEPA 
analysis:
    [ssquf] Determine if a Federal agency is taking the proposed action 
(e.g., city or State action does not trigger NEPA; Federal decisions to 
fund city or State action may trigger NEPA, depending on the nature of 
the funding arrangements) or is exempt from NEPA (e.g., certain Federal 
Emergency Management Agency response actions under the Stafford Act are 
statutorily exempt from NEPA; additional information is available at 
https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1748-25045-1063/stafford_act_nepa_fact_sheet_072409.pdf.).
    [ssquf] If the Federal agency's proposed emergency response 
activity is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, and the agency has a 
categorical exclusion (CE) that includes that type of activity, then 
apply the CE unless there are extraordinary circumstances that indicate 
using the CE in this particular case is not appropriate. Agency NEPA 
personnel can assist in identifying agency-specific actions that are 
categorically excluded.
    [ssquf] If the proposed Federal agency emergency response activity 
is not statutorily exempt from NEPA, a CE is not available, and the 
agency does not expect the potential environmental impacts of the 
proposed response activity to be significant, then an environmental 
assessment (EA) is appropriate. Prepare a focused, concise EA as 
described in Attachment 2. Alternative arrangements, as outlined at 40 
CFR 1506.12, do not apply because the environmental impacts are not 
expected to be significant. Agency NEPA personnel can assist in 
identifying agency-specific actions that typically require an EA.
    [ssquf] If the proposed Federal emergency response activity is not 
statutorily exempt from NEPA, and the agency expects it would have 
significant environmental impacts, the agency should determine whether 
an existing NEPA analysis covers the activity (e.g., implementing pre-
existing spill response plans). If so, the agency may rely upon its 
existing analysis or adopt the analysis of another agency consistent 
with 40 CFR 1506.3.
    [ssquf] If the proposed Federal emergency response activity is not 
statutorily exempt from NEPA, the agency expects it to have significant 
environmental impacts, and an existing NEPA analysis does not cover the 
activity, then the agency should consult with CEQ to determine whether 
alternative arrangements can take the place of an EIS. Contact CEQ to 
develop alternative arrangements under 40 CFR 1506.12. CEQ's main phone 
number is (202) 395-5750.
    3. Factors to address when requesting and designing alternative 
arrangements include the:
    [ssquf] Nature and scope of the emergency;
    [ssquf] Actions necessary to control the immediate impacts of the 
emergency;
    [ssquf] Potential adverse effects of the proposed action;
    [ssquf] Components of the NEPA process that the agency can follow 
and provide value to decision making (e.g., coordination with affected 
agencies and the public);
    [ssquf] Duration of the emergency; and
    [ssquf] Potential mitigation measures.

Attachment 2

Preparing Focused, Concise and Timely Environmental Assessments

    An agency can prepare a concise and focused EA in a short time in 
those situations where:
    [ssquf] There is no statutory exemption from NEPA requirements;
    [ssquf] There is no CE available, either because the agency has 
none that cover the activity or there are extraordinary circumstances;
    [ssquf] An existing NEPA analysis (EA or EIS) does not cover the 
proposed recovery or response actions; and
    [ssquf] The environmental impacts of the proposed recovery or 
response actions are not likely to be significant.
    The following outline with notations addresses the core elements of 
an EA as required by 40 CFR 1501.5:
    [ssquf] The purpose and need for the proposed action;
    [ssquf] Alternatives as required by NEPA section 102(2)(E);
    [ssquf] The description of environmental impacts of the proposed 
action and the alternatives; and
    [ssquf] The list of agencies and persons consulted.

Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action

    The agency should briefly describe information that substantiates 
the purpose and need for the action and incorporate by reference 
information that is reasonably available to the public. For example, 
``This agency is preparing to erect a temporary emergency response 
facility to replace facilities disrupted or destroyed by the 
[hurricane/flooding/contamination/etc.] to facilitate rescue or relief 
efforts in an effort to [minimize further adverse health conditions/
restore communications/restore power].''
    The agency should briefly describe the existing conditions and the 
projected future conditions of the area impacted by the action. For 
example, ``The area(s) in which the temporary facility will be located 
or relocated is identified in the attached map. This area consists of 
[add brief description of the environmental state of the area that will

[[Page 60139]]

be affected by the location and operation of the facility, focusing on 
those areas that are potentially sensitive. The goal is to show that 
environmental effects have been considered and the facts found indicate 
no significant impact (for example, refueling sites are not on top of 
aquifers, nesting areas, graves, sacred sites, etc.). These are 
examples to show the utility of and need to identify actual place-based 
environmental issues rather than compiling lists of environmental 
resources not at issue].''

Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The agency should list and briefly describe its proposed action and 
reasonable alternatives that meet the purpose and need. The agency must 
use its discretion to ensure the number and range of reasonable 
alternatives is reasoned and not arbitrary or capricious. The purpose 
and need for the proposed action and its environmental impacts should 
focus the alternatives. For example, the need to use existing 
infrastructure necessary to support the facility is a reasoned basis 
for focusing on a discrete number of alternatives.
    When there is no conflict over the resource effects of the proposed 
action based on input from interested parties, the agency can consider 
the proposed action and proceed without consideration of additional 
alternatives. Otherwise, the agency must identify reasonable 
alternatives that meet the action's purpose and need, consistent with 
section 102(2)(E) of NEPA.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The agency should describe the environmental impacts of its 
proposed action and each alternative. The description should provide 
enough information to support a determination to either prepare an EIS 
or a finding of no significant impact.
    The agency should focus on whether the action would significantly 
affect the quality of the human environment. The agency should follow 
CEQ's NEPA regulations in considering whether the effects of a proposed 
action are significant. 40 CFR 1501.3. Agency NEPA contacts and 
contacts at resource agencies can assist in this effort.
    Tailor the length of the discussion to the complexity of each 
issue. Focus on those human and natural environment issues where 
impacts are a concern. Telephone or email discussions with State, 
Tribal, and local governments and agencies, and other Federal agencies 
that operate in the area, will help focus those issues.
    The agency must discuss the impacts of each alternative and may 
discuss those impacts together in a comparative description, or discuss 
each alternative separately. The agency should use the approach that 
will be most effective in the time available. The agency may contrast 
the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives with the current 
condition and expected future condition in the absence of the action. 
This constitutes consideration of a no action alternative as well as 
demonstrating the need for the action.
    The agency should incorporate by reference data, inventories, other 
information, and analyses relied on in the EA. CEQ encourages the use 
of hyperlinks in web-based documents. This information must be 
reasonably available to the public. For example, include relevant 
existing programmatic agreements and generally accepted best management 
practices.
    The agency should be clear and concise about its conclusions and 
their bases.

List of Agencies and Persons Consulted

    The agency must involve the public, relevant agencies, and any 
applicants, to the extent practicable in preparing EAs, and list the 
agencies and persons consulted. For example, include the people, 
offices, and agencies that the agency coordinated with to ensure that 
the location of the action did not cause unintentionally an adverse 
impact. Also include information about individuals consulted to comply 
with substantive environmental requirements and regulations, for 
example: The Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, 
and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). [Note that the ESA emergency 
provisions at 50 CFR 402.05 may be applicable to the proposed action.]

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347; 42 U.S.C. 4371-4375.

Mary B. Neumayr,
Chairman.
[FR Doc. 2020-21044 Filed 9-23-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3225-F0-P