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National Environmental Policy Act
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. From Scoping to documenting the consideration of environmental impacts and decision-making process in an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment, the NEPA process goes hand-in-hand with the Corps project planning and development processes.

  • Corps Guidance
    • Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies: Implementation of Updated National Environmental Policy Act Regulations
      This memorandum provides direction for Federal departments and agencies on the CEQ’s final rule updating its regulations at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA), published on 16 July 2020. The final rule modernizes and clarifies the CEQ regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by Federal departments and agencies in connection with proposals for agency action.
    • Processing Final Environmental Impact Statements for Civil Works Projects
      This memorandum puts into effect immediately the guidance and procedures outlined in the 6 July 2020 Memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)), Processing Final Environmental Impact Statements for Civil Works Projects. requires that any request to seek public comments on a final EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act at 40 C.F.R. 1503.1(b) be submitted for approval by the ASA(CW). In these instances, vertical team coordination should occur prior to the Agency Decision Milestone after public comments on the draft EIS have been consolidated.
    • New CEQ NEPA Rules: Initial Assessment and Path Forward
      This webinar, presented by Jeff Trulick (USACE Headquarters Office of Water Project Review, Environmental Team), provided an overview of the recently revised Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The presentation covered a brief overview of how the updated regulations were developed, significant changes that USACE planners need to be aware of, and expected next steps for developing supporting guidance for the field.
    • Delegation of Authority to Approve Documents Published in the Federal Register
      These Department of Defense guidelines clarify that all Federal Register Notices must be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)) for publication; this includes Notices of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
    • Engineer Regulation 1105-2-100: Planning Guidance Notebook
      The Planning Guidance Notebook provides the overall direction by which the Corps of Engineers civil works projects are formulated, evaluated, and selected for overall implementation. This includes all appendices that were written at a later date.
    • Engineer Regulation 200-2-2: Procedures for Implementing NEPA
      This regulation provides guidance for implementation of the procedural provisions of the NEPA for the Civil Works Program of the USACE.
    • Engineer Regulation 25-1-98: Publications in the Federal Register
      This regulation prescribes policies, procedures and responsibilities for submitting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) documents to the U.S. Army Publications and Printing Command (USAPPC) for publishing in the Federal Register (FR).
    • Environmental Evaluation and Compliance within the SMART Planning Framework
      Discussion paper highlighting and clarifying opportunities to encourage efficient and thorough environmental evaluation and compliance in support of the SMART Planning framework.
    • Implementation Guidance for Section 1005 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014), Project Acceleration
      Section 1005 WRRDA 2014 (Public Law 113-121) modifies Section 2045 of the WRDA 2007 (33 USC 2348) and in general directs that the Secretary shall develop and implement a coordinated environmental review process for the development of project studies. This guidance applies to all feasibility studies for proposed water resources development projects that will require specific authorization if the feasibility cost share agreement (FCSA) for the study was executed after enactment of WRRDA 2014 (10 June 2014) and for which an environmental impact statement (EIS) is prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 USC 4321 et seq.) (NEPA). The guidance also applies to feasibility studies initiated after enactment of WRRDA 2014 but that do not require a FCSA. It may also apply to other project studies initiated after enactment of WRRDA 2014 that require an environmental assessment, categorical exclusion, or other document under NEPA if determined appropriate by the Secretary. The guidance provides timelines and instruction to project delivery teams (PDTs) for engaging with federal, state, and local government agencies and Indian tribes on the environmental review process.
    • SMART Planning Feasibility Study Process Overlaid with Major Environmental Compliance Processes
      One page diagram of the SMART Planning feasibility study process timeline (milestones and phases) overlaid with NEPA, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA), Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA) actions.
    • Environmental Evaluation And Compliance Process Diagram
      One page diagram of the SMART Planning feasibility study process timeline (milestones and phases) noting significant environmental evaluation and compliance tasks and products developed during the feasibility study process.
    • SMART Planning Feasibility Studies: A Guide to Coordination and Engagement with the Services
      This guide was developed through a collaboration between the Corps, USFWS and NMFS. The Guide provides an overview of the SMART Planning process and demonstrates how key environmental coordination and compliance activities fit into that process. The Guide highlights opportunities for engagement and coordination at all stages of a planning study, re-emphasizing the need for early coordination.

  • Executive Order 13807 - One Federal Decision

  • Federal Guidance and Regulations
    • Federal NEPA Regulations
      The USACE guidance for implementation of the procedural provisions of NEPA for the Civil Works Program (ER 200-2-2) supplements Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations: 40 CFR 1500-1508, which applies to all federal agencies.
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) NEPA Website
      EPA reviews and comments on EISs prepared by other federal agencies and maintains a national filing system for all EISs. Website also includes directions on how to electronically submit an EIS to EPA’s e-NEPA database.
    • Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA Website
      Consolidated CEQ website on NEPA, including laws, regulations, guidance, and CEQ publications and Reports.
    • Changes to EPA’s Environmental Review Rating Process
      This memorandum issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discontinues EPA’s practice of issuing an alphanumeric rating system along with its written comments on draft Environmental Impact Statements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/309 Program. This change is part of several efforts the NEPA/309 program is undertaking to improve its efficiency and effectiveness consistent with the goals outlines in Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.
    • Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard
      The Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project developers, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects, part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. USACE feasibility studies that include an EIS and a likely total investment of more than $200M may (but are not required to) be included on the dashboard as "other tracked projects."
    • CEQ Guidance Documents
      CEQ guidance by source and subject, including Final Guidance for Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA Review, Final Guidance on the Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews (Withdrawn), Final Guidance on Improving the Process for Preparing Efficient and Timely Environmental Reviews Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Appropriate Use of Mitigation and Monitoring and Mitigated FONSIs, One Federal Decision Framework for the Environmental Review and Authorization Process for Major Infrastructure Projects under E.O. 13807, MOU Implementing One Federal Decision Under E.O. 13807, and Guidance to Federal Agencies Regarding the Environmental Review and Authorization Process for Infrastructure Projects, along with dozens of other guidance documents.

  • NEPA, Collaboration, and Public Involvement

  • NEPA, Learn More About NEPA and NEPA Implementation

  • USACE NEPA Decision Document Guidance
    • National Environmental Policy Act Decision Documents Memo
      This memo addresses National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) decision document requirements and provides guidance on how such documents must be processed. NEPA decision documents requiring ASA(CW) review and approval that will either be executed by the ASA(CW) or delegated to another office for execution, will be executed concurrent with the ASA(CW) determination that the Corps recommended plan (e.g., Chief of Engineers Reports and Director of Civil Works Reports) is feasible. For delegated NEPA decision documents, the Office of the ASA(CW) will notify the Corps when it is appropriate to sign the decision document. The templates associated with this memo can be found in the NEPA collection of the Planning Toolbox.
    • Record of Decision (ROD) Template
      This is a ROD template for use in drafting NEPA decision documents.
      Word version
    • Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) Template
      This is a FONSI template for use in drafting NEPA decision documents.
      Word version

Webinars

    2020
  • A SMART Planning Policy Waiver Case Study: When Corps Policy, the Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act Conflict (11 June)
    This webinar provided a look at the specific challenges that were overcome by the vertical team in the Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) navigation study. The Alaska region has unique considerations in related to building infrastructure, with no shortage of protected wildlife that require extensive consultation under several environmental laws. The Dutch Harbor study illustrates where the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Corps planning policy requirements conflict, and how this conflict required the exploration, development, and approval of a policy waiver by the project delivery team. This presentation explored the weighing of risk to schedule, cost, and implementation with USACE legal and policy obligations, and highlighted the coordination and documentation required to support this specific risk-informed decision to defer completion of ESA consultation to the pre-construction engineering and design phase. The webinar was presented by Quana Higgins (NWD-POD Regional Integration Team); Evie Haberer (Environmental Reviewer, Office of Water Project Review); Kate Bliss (POD Regulatory and Environmental Program Manager); and Mike Salyer (Alaska District Environmental Resources Section Chief).
  • Overview of One Federal Decision (E.O. 13807) Requirements for Civil Works Planning Studies (30 April)
    This webinar provided an overview of Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects (or One Federal Decision, established in August 2017), and its requirements for Civil Works planning studies. The requirements of One Federal Decision cover major infrastructure projects including water resources, ports, and navigational channel projects that need an Environmental Impact Statement. The webinar was presented by Julie Alcon (Environmental Team Lead and Policy Reviewer, HQUSACE Office of Water Project Review).

    2019
  • Working with Cooperating Agencies (22 August)
    This webinar provided an overview of Section 1005 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 and the requirements for involving Cooperating Agencies in a study. Cooperating Agencies are required to be involved in studies per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but the enactment of Section 1005 of WRRDA 2014 has resulted in further requirements. The webinar discussed tips and tools for working with Cooperating Agencies, courtesy of the Collaboration and Public Participation CX (CPCX) and was presented by Julie Alcon (Environmental Team Lead, Office of Water Project Review [OWPR]), Wes Coleman (Chief, OWPR), Hal Cardwell (CPCX Director at theUSACE Institute for Water Resources), and Seth Cohen (Collaboration and Public Participation CoP lead).

    2017
  • Environmental Resource Significance in Civil Works Planning (2 February)
    Ms. Camie Knollenberg, Plan Formulation Branch Chief, Regional Planning and Environmental Division North, St. Paul District described how the significance of environmental and other resources are determined, and how this information is used in civil works planning. Resource significance drives plan formulation in the aquatic ecosystem restoration mission and drives mitigation planning in other civil works mission areas.

    2016
  • SMART Planning & USACE Feasibility Studies: Guide to Coordination and Engagement with the Services (7 September)
    This webinar provided an overview of the SMART Planning process, and demonstrate how key environmental compliance activities, such as the Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and Magnuson-Stevens Act, are integrated into the process. The webinar provided lessons learned from the Seattle District

    2015
  • Environmental Evaluation & Compliance in SMART Planning: A common understanding for PMs, Planners, and Environmental team members (19 March)
    A webinar presenting a common understanding for PMs, Planners, and Environmental team members on integrating the NEPA and environmental compliance tasks associated with planning milestones in the SMART Planning framework.

    2013
  • Environmental Evaluation & Compliance in SMART Planning Feasibility Studies (15 August)
    This webinar outlined how USACE environmental evaluation activities, such as environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) fit into feasibility studies process, including documentation in integrated reports.
  • SMART Planning and USACE Feasibility Studies: Agency to Agency Coordination (1 August)
    This webinar focused on the ongoing coordination between HQUSACE, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Presenters from all three agencies discussed application of SMART Planning principles and process within the context of their agency mandates.