A cooperating agency participates in the actions of the lead agencies throughout the EIS process. Also, a cooperating agency may provide other approvals needed for a project, such as permit approvals, land acquisition approvals, or other approvals required for a project to move forward.
Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU requires that the lead agencies develop a coordination plan as a way to facilitate and manage agency and public involvement.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, requires the analysis of “major federal actions significantly affecting the human environment.” An EIS is the highest level of National Environmental Policy Act documentation and is an informational document intended for use by both decision-makers and the public. It discloses relevant environmental information concerning the proposed action and the no-action alternative.
A ford is a shallow place in a body of water, such as a river, where one can cross through the water by walking or riding on an animal or in a vehicle.
Internal linkage refers to connections within the study area boundaries that require travel across the Little Missouri River.
The role of a lead agency is to identify and invite cooperating and participating agencies into the process; develop a Coordination Plan; coordinate with cooperating and participating agencies on the purpose and need, range of alternatives, and determining methodologies for alternatives analysis; and selection of the preferred alternative.
In 2012, MAP-21 reformed the environmental review process such that more projects will be categorically excluded from review, and there will be a four-year review deadline enforced with financial penalties. Additionally, the statute of limitations for litigation was revised from 180 days to 150 days and the number of funding programs was consolidated by two-thirds.
In accordance with Council on Environmental Quality regulations, 40 CFR 1506.10, a Notice of Availability must be published in the Federal Register to start the 45-day public comment period for Draft EISs. For Final EISs, final decisions on proposed actions may not be made until 30 days after publication of a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
In accordance with Council on Environmental Quality regulations, 40 CFR 1501.7, a Notice of Intent must be published in the Federal Register to signify the intent to develop an EIS and to aid in determining the scope of the project.
A participating agency is involved in the project planning efforts at the same level as a cooperating agency; however, a participating agency is not required to provide any project approvals.
The Council on Environmental Quality regulations, 40 CFR 1502.14, require that EISs examine all reasonable alternatives. In determining alternatives, the emphasis is placed on the term “reasonable”. Alternatives are considered reasonable if they are practical and feasible from a technical and economical standpoint. The No-Action alternative must always be included in the range of reasonable alternatives, although it may not always appear reasonable.
A roadway/structure would be considered reliable if constructed to current design standards, although it may be closed at times during periods of severe weather.
SAFETEA-LU is a transportation funding and authorization bill that incorporated changes aimed at improving and streamlining the environmental process for transportation projects, with additional authority provided to, and responsibilities required for, transportation agencies. SAFETEA-LU requires early and frequent coordination with agencies and the public, including the development of a Coordination Plan to outline the environmental process and an opportunity for involvement for agencies and the public in the development of the purpose and need and range of reasonable alternatives. SAFETEA-LU funding initially expired in 2009. A series of 10 extension acts were passed until the 2012 MAP-21 highway provisions were enacted.
System linkage refers to the connection between US Highway 85 and ND Highway 16.