Environmental Provisions and Related Information
FAST Act Guidance and Information
On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act” - the first Federal law in over ten years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for the Department's highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology and statistics programs. With its enactment, States and local governments may now move forward with critical transportation projects, like new highways and transit lines, with the confidence that they will have a Federal partner over the long term.
Accelerating Project Delivery
The FAST Act builds on the authorities and requirements in SAFETEA-LU, MAP-21 and efforts under FHWA's Every Day Counts in an effort to accelerate the environmental review process for surface transportation projects by institutionalizing best practices and expediting complex infrastructure projects without undermining critical environmental laws or opportunities for public engagement.
FAST Act §§ 1301-1318, 1415, 1432, 1439, 11502; 23 U.S.C. 138, 139, 168, 169, 330; 49 U.S.C. 304
Highlights of Environmental Provisions
Below is a brief summary of several environmental provisions that have helped to shape the current environmental review process. MAP-21 amended some environmental provisions. Further information on MAP-21 environmental provision implementation is on the FHWA's MAP-21 website.
Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decision Making highlights the updates to the environmental review process to include a new category of "participating agencies" for Federal, State, and local agencies and tribal nations that have an interest in the project. The lead agency must establish a coordination plan for agency and public participation and comment. Also under the provision, the participating agencies and the public will have the opportunity to comment on both the Purpose and Need and Range of Alternatives for a project. In addition, a 150-day statute of limitations for lawsuits challenging Federal agency approvals is provided, but it will require a new step of publishing a notice of environmental decisions in the Federal Register.
Statewide Transportation Planning; Metropolitan Transportation Planning requires transportation agencies to consult with resource agencies in statewide and metropolitan planning. Agencies must discuss potential environmental mitigation activities during the transportation planning process.
State Assumption of Responsibility for Categorical Exclusions (CE) declares that Division Offices may assign responsibilities and liabilities for making project specific CE determinations to State Departments of Transportation (DOT). An MOU template is available to help Division Offices and State DOTs begin the process of assigning responsibilities and liabilities for making project specific CE determinations to the State.
Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program describes the assumption of U.S. DOT environmental responsibilities under NEPA and other environmental laws. The program—for which all States are eligible—allows the Secretary of Transportation to assign, and the State to assume, the Secretary's responsibilities under NEPA for one or more highway projects, as well as one or more railroad, public transportation, and/or multimodal project. This program replaces the SAFETEA-LU Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program.
The Final Rule establishes the requirements relating the information that must be contained in the State application to participate in the program.
Exemption of Interstate System exempts most of the Interstate Highway System from consideration as a historic property under existing Section 4(f) legislation. A final list of Nationally and Exceptionally Significant Features of the Federal Interstate Highway System and Listing of State Archival Materials Pertaining to the Interstate Highway System is now available at http://environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/highways.asp.
Parks, Recreation Areas, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites amended existing Section 4(f) legislation to simplify the processing and approval of projects that have only de minimis impacts on lands protected by Section 4(f). Once the U.S. DOT determines that a transportation use of Section 4(f) property, after consideration of any impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation or enhancement measures, results in a de minimis impact on that property, an analysis of avoidance alternatives is not required and the Section 4(f) evaluation process is complete.
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- Subtitle C – Accelerated Project Delivery
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U.S. Department of Transportation National Environmental Policy Act Categorical Exclusion Survey Review
In 2012, FHWA and FTA conducted a survey review of categorical exclusion (CE) usage and CE requests by grantees and other stakeholders, as required by MAP-21. To comply with this requirement, FHWA and FTA reviewed the CEs proposed in the FHWA and/or FTA CE rulemakings since 2005 and in the Department's review of regulations in 2011. The MAP-21 survey asked State Departments of Transportation (DOT), transit authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, and federally-recognized Tribes to provide information on:
- CEs processed as a part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for transportation projects since 2005;
- Types of actions categorically excluded;
- Requests previously received by the Secretary of Transportation for new CEs that are not currently in regulation; and
- Requests for new CEs.
U.S. Department of Transportation National Environmental Policy Act Categorical Exclusion Survey Review HTML PDF (395 kB)
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SAFETEA-LU Guidance and Information
Use the Toolkit to learn about implementation and updates to the environmental review process.
|Environmental Review Process Toolkit
|Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
|Environmental Review Process Checklist — Use this tool to ensure that the essential aspects of the SAFETEA-LU environmental review process have been completed.
Examples of Implementation — See a sample of what's being done, including:
- Project Initiation Letters
- Participating and/or Cooperating Agency Letters
- Coordination Plans
- Public Involvement Plans
- Statute of Limitations (SOL) Notices
- Agency Response Declining to be a Participating Agency
- Interim Guidance on SAFETEA-LU Planning, Environment, and Air Quality Provisions — Joint FHWA/FTA Authorities, September 2, 2005
- Interim Guidance on SAFETEA-LU Planning, Environment, and Air Quality Provisions — FHWA Authorities, September 2, 2005
- SAFETEA-LU Legislation, Summary Information, Fact Sheets, Funding Tables, and Cross Reference
|Title, Guidance, and Information
|Use of Debris from Demolished Bridges and Overpasses, March 7, 2006
|Guidance on the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program, February 1, 2006
|Surface Transportation Environment and Planning (STEP) Cooperative Research Program
|Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decision Making
- Synchronizing Environmental Reviews for Transportation and Other Infrastructure Projects: The 2015 Red Book (or PDF, MB), July 2015
- MOA between FHWA and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to Coordinate and Improve Bridge Planning and Permitting (or PDF, 124KB), January 14, 2014
- MOU between FHWA, USCG, FTA, and FRA to Coordinate and Improve Bridge Planning and Permitting (or PDF, 187KB), January 14, 2014
- Notice of Availability of Guidance on Section 6002 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (or PDF, 97KB), Federal Register, November 15, 2006
- Environmental Review Process Checklist
- Utah Department of Transportation Categorical Exclusion delegation. July 11, 2011
- Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Roads Categorical Exclusion Delegation, December 16, 2009
- MOU between FHWA, California Division and the California Department of Transportation: State Assumption of Responsibility for Categorical Exclusions, June 7, 2007 (or PDF, 1.05MB)
- FHWA Monitoring Reviews of SAFETEA-LU Section 6004 Categorical Exclusion Assignments, March 28, 2007
- State Assumption of Responsibility for Categorical Exclusions, April 4, 2006
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, October 17-21, 2011, Federal Register, May 9, 2012
- Report to Congress on the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program Activities, August 11 – September 30, 2011
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, July 26–30, 2010, Federal Register, January 28, 2011
- Report to Congress on the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program Activities, August 11, 2009 – August 10, 2010
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, July 27–31, 2009, Federal Register, March 3, 2010
- Report to Congress on the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program Activities, August 11, 2008 – August 10, 2009
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, January 26–30, 2009, Federal Register, July 28, 2009
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, July 28 – August 1, 2008, Federal Register, February 17, 2009
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program—FHWA Audit of Caltrans, January 29–31, 2008, Federal Register, September 23, 2008
- Report to Congress on the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program Activities, August 11, 2007 – August 10, 2008
- MOU between the FHWA and the California Department of Transportation Concerning the State of California's participation in the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program, (or PDF, 1.05MB) June 29, 2007
- Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program; Final Rule, Federal Register (or PDF, 80KB), February 12, 2007
- Report to Congress on the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program Activities, August 11, 2006 – August 10, 2007
- Report to Congress on SAFETEA-LU Section 6005 Activities, August 11, 2005 – August 10, 2006
|Environmental Restoration and Pollution Abatement; Control of Noxious Weeds and Aquatic Noxious Weeds and Establishment of Native Species
|Exemption for the Interstate System
|Parks, Recreation Areas, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites
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