Re-Evaluation Guidance from FHWA, FRA and FTA (August 14, 2019). The Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and Federal Railroad Administration joint NEPA regulations (23 CFR part 771) contain a process in 23 CFR 771.129 for re-evaluating environmental documents or decisions to determine whether the original document or decision remains valid, or a supplemental or new analysis (e.g., supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA)) is needed. The agencies developed this guidance to provide clarity and consistency to the re-evaluation process consistent with their regulations.
- FAST Act, Sec. 1309 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). FTA, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published a NPRM pursuant to FAST Act, Sec. 1309 (“Program for Eliminating Duplication of Environmental Reviews”) on Thursday, September 28, 2017. The NPRM proposes to establish a pilot program authorizing up to five States that meet specific requirements to conduct environmental reviews and make approvals for projects under State environmental laws and regulations instead of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Agencies, in consultation with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), are proposing regulations to implement the requirements of the Program, including application requirements and criteria necessary to determine whether State laws and regulations are at least as stringent as the applicable Federal law. The NPRM can be found here; the comment period closes on November 27, 2017.
Questions and Answers regarding FAST Act changes to FTA’s environmental review process statute (6/2/17). FTA, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration, developed 20 Qs & As that highlight amendments to 23 U.S.C. 139, Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decisionmaking, made by section 1304 of the FAST Act. These amendments became applicable on December 4, 2015. This new set of detailed Qs & As provide stakeholders and practitioners with a more thorough discussion of section 1304’s specific changes, such as changes to the definitions, programmatic reviews, lead agency and participating agency roles and responsibilities, project initiation process, alternative analysis, coordination plans, issue resolution, and project/process transparency.
Proposed Environmental Review Process Guidance for Public Comment (03/12/15). The draft Environmental Review Process guidance (previously referred to as the SAFETEA-LU Environmental Review Process Final Guidance) is proposed to be amended to reflect provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The document, once finalized, would provide guidance on environmental review process requirements and best management practices for transportation projects funded or approved by the FHWA, FTA, or both agencies. The public comment period ended on May 12, 2015.
- Categorical Exclusion Guidance (June 2016)
MAP-21 & FAST Act Final Rule Publication - Effective November 28, 2018
FTA, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), published a final rule updating their environmental regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (23 CFR part 771) and Section 4(f) (23 CFR part 774) requirements to reflect MAP-21 and FAST Act changes. The rule was published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2018, and went into effect on November 28, 2018. Highlights include: 1) Addition of Cross-Agency Categorical Exclusion (CE)—FTA may now apply an FHWA or FRA CE to an FTA project or action should FHWA or FRA have a CE that better matches the project activity (see 23 CFR 771.118(e)); 2) Broadening of the Operational Right-of-Way (ROW) CE—The “existing operational ROW” definition at 23 CFR 771.188(c)(12) has been broadened in this revision to the rule; 3) Inclusion of a Combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision section (see 23 CFR 771.124); 4) Inclusion of a Coordination Plan and Schedule requirement—FTA and the project sponsor must establish the coordination plan, including schedule, within 90 days of publishing the notice of intent (see 23 CFR 771.123(b)(2)); 5) Addition of three new Section 4(f) Exemptions (see 23 CFR 774.13(a)). Please review the rule for the complete list of revisions.
New Categorical Exclusions – Effective November 5, 2014
On October 6, 2014, FTA published a joint final rule with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that adds a number of new categorical exclusions (CEs) for FHWA and FTA pursuant to Section 1318 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The CEs were developed based on responses to a stakeholder survey conducted in September 2012 and published in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in September 2013 for public review and comment. The final rule adds three CEs to FTA’s c-list (771.118(c)) and two examples to FTA’s d-list (771.118(d)).
Categorical Exclusions for Actions within Existing Operational ROW and Actions with Limited Federal Assistance - Effective February 12, 2014
On January 13, 2014, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a joint final rule in the Federal Register (PDF) creating two new categorical exclusions (CE) for the Agencies, pursuant to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). In addition to adding two new categorical exclusions for actions within the existing operational right-of-way and actions with limited Federal assistance, FTA also removed the example at 23 CFR Sec. 771.118(d)(5), and reserved it for future use.
- CEs for Actions within Existing Operational ROW Federal Register Notice Final Rule Text
- Recording of CEs for Actions within Existing Operational ROW Webinar
Categorical Exclusion for Emergency Actions - Effective February 19, 2013
This final rule amends the FHWA and FTA joint procedures that implement NEPA by creating a new CE for emergency actions as required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP–21). The final rule modifies the existing lists of FHWA and FTA CEs and expands the existing CE for emergencies to include emergency actions as described in MAP–21 and pursuant to this rulemaking.
- CEs for Emergency Actions Federal Register Notice Final Rule Text (PDF)
- Recording of CEs for Emergency Actions Webinar
Categorical Exclusions and Streamlining – Effective February 7, 2013
This final rule makes revisions to the joint FTA and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that aim to streamline the environmental process. The new categorical exclusions (CE) established by this rule, which affect actions by FTA and FTA grant applicants, are intended to improve the efficiency of the environmental review process by making available the least intensive form of review for those actions that typically do not have the potential for significant environmental effects, and, therefore, do not merit additional analysis and documentation associated with an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.
- CEs and Streamlining Federal Register Notice Final Rule Text
- Guidance on Implementation of New Categorical Exclusions Presentation
- Recording of Categorical Exclusions and Streamlining Webinar
- U.S. DOT press release
- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Fast Lane blog article
Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
Proposal for New Categorical Exclusions
The NPRM includes proposed revisions to the FHWA and FTA joint NEPA implementing procedures prompted by enactment of the MAP-21. The NPRM proposes to add new CEs for projects within an existing operational right-of-way and projects receiving limited Federal funding, as detailed in the NPRM text below. Interested parties have until April 29, 2013, to submit comments.