Environmental Policies and Procedures
Rural Development, a mission area within the U.S. Department of Agriculture comprised of the Rural Housing Service (RHS), Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS), hereafter referred to as the Agency, is proposing to unify and update environmental policies and procedures covering all Agency programs by consolidating two existing Agency regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable environmental requirements. These rules supplement the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), associated environmental statutes, Executive orders and Departmental Regulations. The majority of the proposed changes relate to the categorical exclusion provisions in the Agency's procedures for implementing NEPA. These proposed changes are intended to better align the Agency's regulations, particularly for those actions listed as categorical exclusions, to the Agency's current activities and recent experiences and to the CEQ's Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies entitled ``Establishing, Applying, and Revising Categorical Exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act'' issued on November 23, 2010, and to consolidate the provisions of the Agency's two current NEPA rules at 7 CFR parts 1794 and 1940, subpart G.