Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on the Appropriate Use of Mitigation and Monitoring and Clarifying the Appropriate Use of Mitigated Findings of No Significant Impact
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is issuing its final guidance for Federal departments and agencies on the appropriate use of mitigation in Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The guidance was developed to modernize, reinvigorate, and facilitate and increase the transparency of NEPA implementation. This guidance outlines principles Federal agencies should apply in the development of their NEPA implementing regulations and procedures to guide their consideration of measures to mitigate adverse environmental impacts in EAs and EISs; their commitments to carry out mitigation made in related decision documents, such as the Record of Decision; the implementation of mitigation; and the monitoring of mitigation outcomes during and after implementation. This guidance also outlines principles agencies should apply to provide for public participation and accountability in the development and implementation of mitigation and monitoring efforts that are described in their NEPA documentation. Mitigation commitments should be explicitly described as ongoing commitments and should specify measurable performance standards and adequate mechanisms for implementation, monitoring, and reporting. In addition, this guidance affirms the appropriateness of what is traditionally referred to as a ``mitigated Finding of No Significant Impact.'' Mitigated Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSIs) can result when an agency concludes its NEPA review with an EA that is based on a commitment to mitigate significant environmental impacts, so that a more detailed EIS is not required. As explained in this guidance, an agency does not have to prepare an EIS when the environmental impacts of a proposed action can be mitigated to a level where the agency can make a FONSI determination, provided that the agency or a project applicant commits to carry out the mitigation, and establishes a mechanism for ensuring the mitigation is carried out. When a FONSI depends on successful mitigation, the requisite mitigation commitments should be made public.