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Anatomy of an Environmental Assessment

An Environmental Assessment is a PLANNING DOCUMENT and a DISCLOSURE DOCUMENT that should state in clear, straight forward, and concise language:

  1. What action is being proposed
  2. The environment where the action is to take place
  3. Alternatives to implementing the action
  4. An equal and unbiased analysis of how each alternative would impact that environment

GENERAL NOTES

  • The EA document does not provide justification for or selection of a particular alternative.
  • It should be written in a logical sequence that is easy for the reader to recognize and follow.
  • Sections should use a consistent format throughout the document.
  • Sentences should be specific and to the point.
  • Paragraphs should be specific and to the point.
  • The document should be specific and to the point.
  • The document should avoid: jargon, exaggerations, generalizations, assumptions, non-defensible statements, unnecessary verbiage, creative writing and unfounded conclusions.
  • For detailed information on formatting tips, go to
  • On the following pages is a general outline of a FEMA Region VIII Environmental Assessment.
  • To the extent practical and reasonable, this EA OUTLINE should be followed and the topics listed in the outline should be covered in the order shown.
  • Sub-sections, such as certain areas of affected environments, should not be included if they are obviously irrelevant.
  • It is also important to remember that all alternatives must receive equal consideration under each affected environment, including the No Action Alternative, which is generally listed as "Alternative 1."

NOTE: To meet the requirements of certain laws, some sections must be included whether or not they are relevant. These will be indicated by **.

SCOPING

Before writing the EA document, the writer should:

  1. Consult with the FEMA Project Officer and/or Regional Environmental Officer to develop and/or concur on viable alternatives to the proposed project.
  2. Send scoping letters to the relevant agencies (federal, state and local) soliciting their comments on the proposed project and alternatives.

MAJOR COMPONENTS OF AN EA DOCUMENT

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • List of Acronyms
  • Purpose and need
  • Alternatives considered
  • Environmental setting
  • Potential impacts of the alternatives
  • Permits
  • Summary
  • Agencies consulted and references
  • List of preparers
  • Appendices

OUTLINE OF A FEMA REGION VIII EA TITLE PAGE

The Title Page should contain the following:

  1. Project title (FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR (project name, location and name of sub-grantee))
  2. FEMA Region VIII DR # and Project ID # (if applicable)
  3. Prepared for FEMA Region VIII
  4. Address (Denver Federal Center, Bldg. 710, Denver CO 80225)
  5. Address of contractor (if applicable)
  6. Date (month, year)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This is a list and page number of all sections in the document. After completion of the document, a final check must be made to assure that the actual sections and page numbers of the document reflects the sections and page numbers stated in the Table of Contents.

LIST OF ACRONYMS

(see list of acronyms near bottom of this page)

This is a list of commonly used acronyms in the document (always spell out the first time used). This list avoids the use of long agency names in the document. If an acronym is not in the document, don't list it.

NOTE: From this point on, cite appropriate maps, figures, reports, responses, etc. that are in the Appendices. If something is not cited in the document, it should not be in the Appendices. If something is cited in the document, it must be in the Appendices.

CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION

This chapter is an overview of the event (disaster) that created the need for the project and then a description of the purpose and need for the project. Sections should be presented in the following order:

  • 1.1 Disaster Background and Overview
    1. Paragraph(s) on the general background of the event(s) that generated the "need":
      1. In what state
      2. Date(s) events happened
      3. Location & size of event-number of counties declared
      4. Scope of effects or damage
      5. Date disaster declared & under what Act. For example: "Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, (P.L.) 93-288 as amended the President declared a major disaster..."
      6. Paragraph(s) describing the general area where the project is being proposed
      7. Paragraph(s) describing how the above described general event impacted the above described area where the project is being proposed
      8. Paragraph(s) giving site specific damage information not stated above. This should include site specific damages in the immediate project area that generated the need for the project, such as:
        1. What caused the damages (flooding, etc., how much, etc.)?
        2. When damages occurred
        3. Scope of effects or damages
        4. Numbers, percentages, acres, sq. feet, etc.
  • 1.2 Purpose and Need
    1. Brief and general statement as to what is the purpose (the goal) of the particular program under which the project will be funded. Examples
      1. Reduce the impacts of natural disasters on the built environment
      2. Assist communities in recovering from damages caused by natural disasters
      3. Reduce future losses resulting from natural disasters
      4. Protect health, safety and welfare of citizens, etc.
    2. Brief statement as to what is the need for the project (the problem). This is more specific in nature and should not be stated as a solution (e.g., the need is to build a dam or build a building), but rather as a problem. Examples:
      1. The project would prevent future losses due to flooding
      2. Prevent future losses of essential services
      3. Prevent future losses of essential transportation, etc.

NOTE: From this point on, EVERYTHING ties back into the above stated Purpose and Need, so be sure that the purpose and need are solid and well stated.

Next, include a paragraph giving information on the grant or public assistance application to address the above stated purpose and need, including:

  1. Who is submitting the proposal or grant application for funding from FEMA? For example: "State of SD Hazard Mitigation Team has submitted an application to FEMA for consideration under..." or "The town of Colorado Springs has submitted an application to FEMA for consideration under..."
  2. Program under which the funding is being sought. For example: "HMGP Sec. 404 of P.L. 93-288", "FEMA Public Assistance Program", and "FEMA Project Impact Program."
  3. Paragraph citing the National Environmental Policy Act requirements

CHAPTER 2 – ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED

This chapter should provide a concise description of all of the alternatives that were fully considered in addressing the purpose and need stated above. It should also list those alternatives that were considered but dismissed and the reasons for dismissal.

In general this chapter:

  1. Should give a simple description (nature, size, location) of all the alternatives considered and numbered
  2. Should give each alternative equal treatment
  3. Should give equal distinction between alternatives
  4. Should not select or reject alternative here...simply describe them
  5. Should not compare alternatives to promote or diminish one over the other. The Proposed Alternative implies the applicant's preferred alternative. If an alternative is not permitted by FEMA regulations, it's not a viable alternative.

The introductory paragraph(s) of this section must include the number and brief title of each of the alternatives considered in addressing the stated purpose and need. The remaining sections should be presented in the following order:

  • 2.1 Alternatives Analyzed and Dismissed
    1. Provide a description of each alternative considered and dismissed from further consideration or analysis and why. (NOTE: If no alternatives were considered and dismissed, then this section should provide information as to why no other alternatives were considered.)
    2. The alternatives should be presented in the following order:
      1. Alternative 1 – (if applicable);
      2. Alternative 2 – (if applicable), etc.
  • 2.2 Alternatives Carried Forward
    1. Provide a description of each alternative considered and carried forward for detailed analysis in the next chapter.
    2. Alternatives to the proposed action must be feasible, which means they would be selected if the proposed alternative were found unavailable.
    3. They should be presented in the following order:
      1. Alternative 1 – No Action (should always be considered). What happens if nothing is done to address the purpose and need?
      2. Alternative 2 – Proposed Alternative Description of the Proposed Alternative and how it will address the purpose and need, etc. This should be a fairly detailed description of the alternative, how it would be implemented, how long to implement it, where it would be implemented (use maps, diagrams, etc.)
      3. Alternative 3 – Description of a third alternative (at a minimum, three alternatives, including the "No Action" Alternative, must be considered) and how it will address the purpose and need.
      4. Alternative 4, 5, 6, etc. (if applicable) – Give equal treatment to all of the alternatives considered to the extent that information is available.

CHAPTER 3 – AFFECTED ENVIRONMENTS AND POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF THE ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED

This is the heart of the EA.

In general this chapter should contain:

  1. An introductory paragraph(s) on the general setting of the project area.
  2. A concise description of each affected environment at the project site and any laws that may apply to that affected environment.
  3. The impact of each alternative on that environment (this can include positive impacts, if applicable).
  4. What can be done to mitigate the negative impacts (if necessary)?
  5. Each affected environment should:
    1. Be consistent and follow the exact same format for each affected environment.
    2. Be easy to follow for comparison throughout the various affected environments.
    3. The list of affected environments should meet the needs of most of Region VIII EA's (the list, however is not all inclusive). Some projects may dictate a reduction or expansion of the list of affected environments provided below.
    4. If indirect (secondary) impacts are present, they should be addressed under each affected environment.

Affected Environments

  • 3.1 Geology and Soils
    1. Brief description of the geology and soils at the proposed project area and site.
    2. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the geology and soils.
    3. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the geology and soils.
    4. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    5. If applicable, describe any measures that can be undertaken to mitigate the anticipated impacts from implementing the various alternatives described above (i.e. Best Management Practices to reduce the potential for soil erosion, etc.).
  • 3.2 Land Use and Planning
    1. Paragraph(s) on the general description of existing land use and planning in the area and project site.
    2. Provide the following information on the below listed environmental settings:
      1. 3.2.1 – Zoning
        1. Brief description of the zoning and/or planning at the propose project area and site.
        2. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the zoning and/or planning.
        3. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the zoning and/or planning.
        4. Will the alternatives be consistent with planning & zoning in the project area?
        5. Continue for the rest of the alternatives if applicable.
        6. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
      2. 3.2.2 – Prime Farm Land
        1. Brief description of the Farmlands Protection Act of 1981.
        2. Cite agency consultation, if applicable.
        3. Brief description of the prime farm lands at the project site.
        4. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) prime farm land.
        5. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) prime farm land.
        6. Continue for the rest of the alternatives if applicable.
        7. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
        8. This section can also include timberland if applicable.
      3. 3.2.3 – Floodplain Encroachment**
        1. Brief description of EO 11988 and floodplains.
        2. Cite agency consultation if applicable.
        3. Brief description of the floodplain at the project site (if any).
        4. Is the community in the NFIP and if so, will the project impact the FEMA maps?
        5. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the floodplains.
        6. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the floodplains.
        7. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
        8. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
  • 3.3 Traffic Circulation, Volume and Parking Access
    1. Brief description of the traffic circulation, volume and parking at the proposed project area and site.
    2. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the traffic and circulation.
    3. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) the traffic and circulation.
    4. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    5. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
  • 3.4 Public Health and Safety
    1. This includes exposure to natural hazards, e.g., flood risks, environmental conditions, traffic safety, etc.
    2. It may also include lesser issues relating to hazardous waste. For significant issues relative to hazardous waste, see Section 3.12 Hazardous Materials and Wastes.
    3. Brief description of any health and safety issues involved in the propose project.
    4. A brief discussion on federal & state standards if applicable.
    5. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) those issues.
    6. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) those issues.
    7. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    8. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
  • 3.5 Socioeconomic Issues
    1. Brief description of affected populations in the project area. This should include:
      1. A description and distribution (if any) of minority, elderly and low income populations.
      2. Impacts from noise, traffic, displacement, etc.
    2. 3.5.1 – EO 12898, Environmental Justice**
      1. Describe EO 12898 (Environmental Justice) requirements.
      2. How Alternative 1 will impact populations described above.
      3. How Alternative 2 will impact populations described above.
      4. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
      5. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
      6. Census data should be used where appropriate.
  • 3.6 Air Quality
    1. Brief description of air quality standards in the project area (or state if applicable).
    2. Brief description as to whether the project vicinity and surrounding area is in compliance with those standards. This may include EPA Air Quality classification of the site.
    3. Cite agency consultation, if applicable.
    4. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term (operational) impacts on air quality.
    5. How Alternative 1 will impact air quality in the project area.
    6. How Alternative 2 will impact air quality in the project area.
    7. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    8. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above (e.g., dust control mitigation plan).
  • 3.7 Noise
    1. Brief description of any noise ordinances and sensitive receptors that may exist in the project area.
    2. How Alternative 1 will impact ambient noise levels in the project area.
    3. How Alternative 2 will impact ambient noise levels in the project area.
    4. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    5. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
    6. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term (operational) impacts on noise levels.
  • 3.8 Public Services and Utilities
    1. Brief description of the public services and utilities provided (and by whom) at the project site. This should include, but not be limited to:
      • Water
      • Sanitation (sewage or septic system)
      • Solid waste disposal
      • Storm water drainage
      • Electric power
      • Natural gas
      • Telephone/television service
      • Law enforcement
      • Fire protection
      • Public transit system
      • Emergency medical and hospitals.
    2. How Alternative 1 will impact public services and utilities in the project area.
    3. How Alternative 2 will impact public services and utilities in the project area.
    4. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    5. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
    6. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term impacts on public services and utilities.
    7. Impacts should also include demands of the propose project on public services and utilities, if any.
  • 3.9 Water Quality – Water Resources
    1. Brief description of any water quality-resources issues relative to the project site. This could also include water use classifications or local issues due to project runoff during and after construction.
    2. If applicable, description of the Clean Water Act requirements and state standards.
    3. Cite agency consultation, if applicable.
    4. How Alternative 1 will impact water quality in the project area.
    5. How Alternative 2 will impact water quality in the project area.
    6. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    7. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
    8. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term impacts on water quality.
  • 3.10 Biological Resources
    1. 3.10.1 – Wetlands**
      1. Brief description of EO 11990 and requirements.
      2. If applicable, describe wetlands (if any) at the project site.
      3. Cite agency consultation, if applicable.
      4. How Alternative 1 will impact wetlands in the project area.
      5. How Alternative 2 will impact wetlands in the project area.
      6. Continue for the rest of the alternatives if applicable.
      7. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
      8. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term impacts on wetlands.
    2. 3.10.2 – Threatened or Endangered Species**
      1. Animal, plant, and aquatic
      2. Brief description of the Endangered Species Act or other applicable laws and regulations relating to threatened, endangered or sensitive species and their habitat.
      3. Determination and description of any threatened, endangered, or sensitive species (animal, plant, and aquatic) and their habitat in the project area.
      4. Cite agency consultation, if applicable.
      5. How Alternative 1 will impact any threatened, endangered, or sensitive species (animal, plant, and aquatic) and their habitat, in the project area.
        How Alternative 2 will impact any threatened, endangered or sensitive species (animal, plant, and aquatic) and their habitat, in the project area.
        Continue for the rest of the alternatives if applicable.
      6. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term impacts on threatened and endangered species and their habitat.
    3. 3.10.3 – Vegetation, Wildlife, and Aquatic Resources
      1. This section, if applicable, should have an assessment of other vegetation, wildlife, and aquatic resources in the project area that may be impacted by the proposed project and alternatives, but are not necessarily listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive.
    4. 3.10.4 – Areas with Special Designation
      1. This section, if applicable, should have an assessment of impacts to conservation areas, wildlife refuges, parklands and/or other ecologically critical or sensitive areas.
  • 3.11 Cultural Resources**
    1. 3.11.1 – Historic Properties
      1. Cite consultation with SHPO.
      2. Brief description of the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing regulations contained in 36 CFR 800.
      3. Identification of any historic properties in the project area.
      4. How Alternative 1 will impact those historic properties in the project area.
      5. How Alternative 2 will impact those historic properties in the project area.
      6. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
      7. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above. This could include any MOAs, MOUs, or Programmatic Agreements.
    2. 3.11.2 – Archeological Resources
      1. Site consultation with SHPO.
      2. Identification of any potential archeological resources in the project area.
      3. How Alternative 1 will impact those archeological resources in the project area.
      4. How Alternative 2 will impact those archeological resources in the project area.
      5. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
      6. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above. This could include any MOAs, MOUs or Programmatic Agreements.
      7. Impacts should address short (during construction) and long term impacts.
  • 3.12 Hazardous Materials and Wastes
    1. To be used if hazardous materials and wastes issues are identified.
    2. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) (1994) Standard E 1527-94 defines a recognized environmental condition as "the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, groundwater or surface water of the property. This can include releases from waste sites, disposal sites, dump pits, etc.
    3. Brief description of any hazardous materials and waste issues involved in the proposed project.
    4. This involves a brief discussion of federal & state standards if applicable.
    5. How Alternative 1 will impact (and/or be impacted by) those issues.
    6. How Alternative 2 will impact (and/or be impacted by) those issues.
    7. Continue for the rest of the alternatives, if applicable.
    8. If applicable, describe any measures that can be implemented to mitigate the anticipated impacts described above.
  • 3.13 Cumulative Impacts**
    1. This is a description of the cumulative impacts (if any) on the environment.
    2. A cumulative impact is defined as "the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present and reasonably foreseeable future action".
    3. Cumulative impacts are not wholly different impacts from direct or indirect impacts of an action.
    4. Cumulative impacts are a way of placing seemingly isolated or insignificant direct and indirect impacts in context with respect to overall impacts, both over time and in an area larger than that evaluated for direct and indirect impacts.
  • 3.14 Coordination and Permits
    1. This is a description of permits typically required for this type of action.
    2. This includes such things as building codes and requirements, storm water and sediment and erosion control requirements, etc.
    3. If a particular alternative requires a specific federal (e.g. 404 permit) or state permit, then the requirements of that permit should be discussed in that particular effected environment.

CHAPTER 4 – SUMMARY

This section provides:

  1. A very brief introductory paragraph on the proposed alternative and the other alternatives evaluated in the document.
  2. A table describing the assessment categories (environmental settings) and the impacts of each alternative on that assessment category (including the No Action alternative).

CHAPTER 5 – AGENCIES CONSULTED AND REFERENCES

This is a list of federal, state and local agencies (with address and phone numbers) that were consulted during the preparation of the EA.

Coordination letters sent to the agencies and their comments should be provided in the Appendices.

Summary of phone consultations (citing date and individual contacted) should also be included in that Appendix.

CHAPTER 6 – LIST OF PREPARERS

This is a list of all individuals who participated in the preparation of the EA.

The list should include:

  • The individual's name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Agency or firm affiliation, if applicable.

CHAPTER 7 – PUBLIC NOTICE

Usually a Public Notice or notice of intent to undertake an action is published in a local newspaper if:

  1. The project is of a large enough scale or may be controversial.
  2. If the project involves EO 11988 or 11990.
  3. The comment period is for 15 days.
  4. Comments received should be addressed in the EA.
  5. Once the FINAL EA is completed and the FONSI signed:
  6. A Final Notice will be published.
  7. If a public notice is published, then a copy of that notice should be reproduced here with date and place of its publication.
  8. This notice should cite all applicable acts, project descriptions, EOs, agencies contacted and who to contact for further information.

APPENDICES

Appendix A

  1. Figures, maps and/or photographs (see note)
  2. Site location maps
  3. Floodplain maps
  4. Photographs
  5. Site layout maps
  6. Building or project diagrams, etc.
  • Note: Maps, diagrams, photos (when applicable) should:
    • Have a North Arrow, with same page orientation with north pointing to the top of the page
    • Have a scale shown

Appendix B

  1. Damage Survey Report (if applicable)

Appendix C

  1. MOA and or MOU (if applicable)

Appendix D

  1. USDA Farm land Conversion Impact Rating Form or other forms.

Appendix E

  1. Agency Correspondence

Appendix F

  1. Anything else that may be applicable.

OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS THAT MAY APPLY

  • Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
  • Wilderness Act
  • Section 402 of the Federal Clean Water Act-Sewage Disposal
  • Discharge Permits
  • Section 313 of the Federal Clean Water Act-Stormwater Management and Erosion Sediment Control
  • Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act of 1990.
  • Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Section 4(f) of the Dept. of Transportation Act-Recreational Area/Parkland/Protected Land
  • Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act – Navigable Waters
  • Applicable State & Local Requirements and Laws
  • NOTE: This list is not all inclusive

LIST of SAMPLE ACRONYMS

This list should be tailored or added to meet the needs of the particular EA:

  • 44 CFR 9 – FEMA Floodplain and Wetlands Regulations
  • ACHP – Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • APE – Area of Potential Effect
  • BFE – Base Flood Elevation
  • BMP – Best Management Practices
  • CATEX – Categorical Exclusion
  • CDBG – Community Development Block Grant
  • CEQ – Council on Environmental Quality
  • CERCLA – Comprehensive Environmental Resource Compensation
  • and Liability Act
  • CWA – Clean Water Act
  • EA – Environmental Assessment
  • EIS – Environmental Impact Statement
  • EO – Executive Order
  • EO 11988 – Floodplain
  • EO 11990 – Wetlands
  • EO 12898 – Environmental Justice
  • EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
  • ESA – Endangered Species Act
  • FONSI – Finding of No Significant Impact
  • FWPCA – Federal Water Pollution Control Act
  • FWS – U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • H&H – Hydraulics and Hydrology
  • HMGP – Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
  • HUD – Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • MOA – Memorandum of Agreement
  • NEPA – National Environmental Policy Act
  • NHPA – National Historic Protection Act
  • NMFS – National Marine Fisheries Service
  • NRCS – Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • PA – Public Assistance, Programmatic Agreement
  • RCRA – Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • REO – Regional Environmental Officer
  • Section 106 – Historic Preservation Consultation
  • Section 404 – Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
  • Section 404 Permit – CWA Dredge and Fill Permit
  • Section 406 – Public Assistance Program
  • Section 7 – Endangered Species Consultation
  • SHPO – State Historic Preservation Officer
  • SMMA – Standard Mitigation Measures Agreement
  • STATEX – Statutory Exclusion
  • T&E – Threatened & Endangered
  • USACE – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • USGS – U.S. Geological Service

SAMPLE STANDARD LANGUAGE FOR THE DOCUMENT

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements.
  • The President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has developed regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • These federal regulations, set forth in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 1500-1508, require an evaluation of alternatives and a discussion of the potential environmental impacts of a proposed federal action, as part of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process.
  • This section of the code requires FEMA to take into account environmental considerations before funding or approving actions.
  • Prime Farmland:
    The Farmland Protection Policy Act was enacted in 1981 (P.L. 98-98) to minimize the unnecessary conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses as a result of federal actions. In addition, the Act seeks to assure that federal programs are administered in a manner that will be compatible with state and local policies and programs that have been developed to protect farmland. The policy of the Natural Resources Conservation Service is to protect significant agricultural lands from conversions that are irreversible and result in the loss of an essential food and environmental resource. The Service has developed criteria for assessing the effects of federal actions on converting farmland to other uses, including a Farmland Conversion Impact Rating form AD-1066 that documents a site-scoring evaluation process to assess its potential agricultural value.
  • Executive Order 11988 and Floodplain Encroachment:
    The intent of Executive Order is to require federal agencies to take actions to minimize occupancy of and modifications to floodplains. Specifically, EO 11988 prohibits federal agencies from funding construction in the 100-year floodplain (or 500 year floodplain for critical facility) unless there are no practicable alternatives. (NOTE: The next two sentences are to be used only if the project is located in the FEMA identified floodplain or floodway) By its very nature, the NEPA compliance process involves the same basic decision process to meet objectives found in the Eight-Step Decision-Making Process. The Eight-Step Decision-making process has been applied through implementation of the NEPA process followed as part of this EA.
  • Executive Order 12898 – Environmental Justice:
    On February 11, 1994, President Clinton signed EO 12898, entitled "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations". The EO directs federal agencies to focus attention on human health and environmental conditions in minority and/or low-income communities. It's goals are to achieve environmental justice, fostering non-discrimination in federal programs that substantially affect human health or the environment and to give minority or low-income communities greater opportunities for public participation in and access to public information on matter relating to human health and the environment. Also to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies and activities on minority populations and low income populations in the United States.
  • Noise:
    The Noise Control Act was enacted in 1972 (P.L. 92-574). Inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the nation's population and that the major sources of noise include transportation vehicles and equipment, machinery, appliances, other products in commerce, climate or recreation. Sounds that disrupt normal activities or otherwise diminish the quality of the environment are designated as noise. Noise can be stationary or transient, intermittent or continuous.
  • Water Quality:
    The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for permitting and enforcement functions dealing with building in U.S. waters and discharging dredged or fill material into U.S. waters. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 authorize USACE regulations for building or working in navigable waters of the United States. These regulations often go hand in hand with Section 404 of the Clean Waters Act (CWA), which establishes the USACE permit program for discharging dredged or fill material. The regulations are often used together because building in navigable waters of the United States also constitutes discharging dredged or fill material into water of the United States. In addition to regulating construction or work being done in navigable waters of the United States, USACE regulates discharging into wetlands through the "Section 404" permit program. (see EO 11990 – Protection of Wetlands)
  • Executive Order 11990 – Protection of Wetlands:
    Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, requires federal agencies to take action to minimize the destruction or modification of wetlands, by considering both direct and indirect impacts to wetlands that may result from federally funded actions. Application of the Eight-Step Decision-Making process is required to ensure that federally funded projects are consistent with EO 11990 objectives. (NOTE: The next two sentences are to be used only if the project is located in identified wetlands.) By its very nature, the NEPA compliance process involves the same basic decision process to meet the objectives found in the Eight-Step Decision-Making Process. The Eight-Step Decision-Making Process has been applied through implementation of the NEPA process followed as part of this EA.

    Activities disturbing jurisdictional wetlands require a permit from the USACE. Two types of authorization are available from the USACE for activities regulated under Section 404 of the CWA: general permits, which are issued for a specific category of similar activities and include nationwide permits defined in 33 CFR Part 30 and individual permits issued after individual review of the project, project alternative and proposed mitigation.
  • Threatened or Endangered Species:
    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 establishes a federal program to conserve, protect and restore threatened and endangered plants and animals and their habitats. ESA specifically charges federal agencies with the responsibility of using their authority to conserve threatened and endangered species. All federal agencies must insure any action they authorize, fund or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of an endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction of critical habitat for these species.
  • Cultural Resources:
    In addition to review under NEPA, consideration of impacts to cultural resources is mandated under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as implemented by 36 CFR 800. Requirements include the need to identify significant historic properties that may be impacted by the proposed action or alternatives within the project's area of potential effect. Historic properties are defined as archaeological sites, standing structures or other historic resources listed in or determined eligible for listing in the NRHP 36 CFR 60.4. If adverse effects on historic, archaeological or cultural properties are identified, then agencies must attempt to avoid, minimize or mitigate the impacts to these resources.
Last updated Jun 24, 2020