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Environmental Review Toolkit

Collaborative Problem Solving: Better and Streamlined Outcomes for All

Guidance on Managing Conflict and Resolving Disputes between State and Federal Agencies During the Transportation Project Development and Environmental Review Process

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Environmental Streamlining National Memorandum of Understanding

Section 1309 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) calls for a coordinated environmental review process to expedite Federal highway and transit projects. The agencies below agree to streamline environmental review processes in accordance with TEA-21 and other relevant environmental statutes in ways that reinforce our Federal responsibility to protect the environment. To meet this commitment, we agree to:

Reduce Project Delays

  • Identify solutions such as programmatic agreements to reduce unnecessary project delays, including delays caused by staffing constraints, and to amend rules and policies where needed without compromising environmental quality.
  • Apply the necessary technical and financial resources to identify and resolve issues early, especially on projects that are not typical or have potential to create the most damaging impacts to the environment.
  • Direct field organizations to work collaboratively to develop processes that assure the timely, cost-effective development of sound transportation plans and projects.
  • Emphasize the use of concurrent review of plans and projects.
  • Develop national procedures for dispute resolution and encourage the use of appropriate mechanisms and organizations.
  • Provide timely review and constructive comments on transportation proposals focusing additional information requests on information which is needed to reach an informed decision.
  • Support and encourage field offices to explore flexible streamlining opportunities on their own and with state transportation and environmental partners including developing MOUs to lay out mutual expectations, funding agreements in support of streamlining, and concurrent review within cooperatively determined time frames. One example might be pilot projects to investigate new methodologies that lead to a single public interest decision to satisfy multiple agency requirements.
  • Establish, with stakeholder input, goals, performance measures, and benchmarks to evaluate transportation and environmental decision making.

Protect and Enhance Environmental Quality

  • Work with project sponsors to ensure that they comply fully with all applicable environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and address fully any information needs associated with such statutes by providing complete and high quality information within the relevant timeframes.
  • Seek to identify information needs early so the relevant environmental statutes can be addressed fully.
  • Recognize effective local or regional coordination processes that are currently underway, build upon and publicize successful practices, and promote creative solutions and innovative methods that reduce economic and environmental costs.
  • Assess alternative actions and identify the action that is in the best overall public interest.
  • Ensure broad stakeholder involvement, including nontraditional stakeholder, as well as underserved and underrepresented constituencies, and public participation throughout the environmental review process.

We will strive to ensure that transportation projects are protective of and more compatible with the natural and human environment and we commit to continuously improve and streamline the processes used to develop those projects.

Original signed by:

Mortimer L. Downey, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation on 7-20-99

Joseph W. Westphal, Assistant Secretary of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on 7-01-99

John Berry, Assistant Secretary, Policy, Management and Budget, U.S. Department of Interior on 7-08-99

Peter D. Robertson, Acting Deputy Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on 7-01-99

D. James Baker, Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce on 7-14-99

Cathryn Buforn Slater, Chairman, Advisory Council for Historic Preservation on 7-08-99

James R. Lyons, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture on 7-20-99

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