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Title 40

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Title 40

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Editorial codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register.

§ 1500.3 NEPA compliance.

(a) Mandate. This subchapter is applicable to and binding on all Federal agencies for implementing the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (Pub. L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA or the Act), except where compliance would be inconsistent with other statutory requirements. The regulations in this subchapter are issued pursuant to NEPA; the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, as amended (Pub. L. 91-224, 42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.); section 309 of the Clean Air Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 7609); Executive Order 11514, Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality (March 5, 1970), as amended by Executive Order 11991, Relating to the Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality (May 24, 1977); and Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects (August 15, 2017). The regulations in this subchapter apply to the whole of section 102(2) of NEPA. The provisions of the Act and the regulations in this subchapter must be read together as a whole to comply with the law.

(b) Exhaustion.

(1) To ensure informed decision making and reduce delays, agencies shall include a request for comments on potential alternatives and impacts, and identification of any relevant information, studies, or analyses of any kind concerning impacts affecting the quality of the human environment in the notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (§ 1501.9(d)(7) of this chapter).

(2) The draft and final environmental impact statements shall include a summary of all alternatives, information, and analyses submitted by State, Tribal, and local governments and other public commenters for consideration by the lead and cooperating agencies in developing the draft and final environmental impact statements (§ 1502.17 of this chapter).

(3) For consideration by the lead and cooperating agencies, State, Tribal, and local governments and other public commenters must submit comments within the comment periods provided, and comments shall be as specific as possible (§§ 1503.1 and 1503.3 of this chapter). Comments or objections of any kind not submitted, including those based on submitted alternatives, information, and analyses, shall be forfeited as unexhausted.

(4) Informed by the submitted alternatives, information, and analyses, including the summary in the final environmental impact statement (§ 1502.17 of this chapter) and the agency's response to comments in the final environmental impact statement (§ 1503.4 of this chapter), together with any other material in the record that he or she determines relevant, the decision maker shall certify in the record of decision that the agency considered all of the alternatives, information, and analyses, and objections submitted by States, Tribal, and local governments and other public commenters for consideration by the lead and cooperating agencies in developing the environmental impact statement (§ 1505.2(b) of this chapter).

(c) Review of NEPA compliance. It is the Council's intention that judicial review of agency compliance with the regulations in this subchapter not occur before an agency has issued the record of decision or taken other final agency action. It is the Council's intention that any allegation of noncompliance with NEPA and the regulations in this subchapter should be resolved as expeditiously as possible. Consistent with their organic statutes, and as part of implementing the exhaustion provisions in paragraph (b) of this section, agencies may structure their procedures to include an appropriate bond or other security requirement.

(d) Remedies. Harm from the failure to comply with NEPA can be remedied by compliance with NEPA's procedural requirements as interpreted in the regulations in this subchapter. It is the Council's intention that the regulations in this subchapter create no presumption that violation of NEPA is a basis for injunctive relief or for a finding of irreparable harm. The regulations in this subchapter do not create a cause of action or right of action for violation of NEPA, which contains no such cause of action or right of action. It is the Council's intention that any actions to review, enjoin, stay, vacate, or otherwise alter an agency decision on the basis of an alleged NEPA violation be raised as soon as practicable after final agency action to avoid or minimize any costs to agencies, applicants, or any affected third parties. It is also the Council's intention that minor, non-substantive errors that have no effect on agency decision making shall be considered harmless and shall not invalidate an agency action.

(e) Severability. The sections of this subchapter are separate and severable from one another. If any section or portion therein is stayed or determined to be invalid, or the applicability of any section to any person or entity is held invalid, it is the Council's intention that the validity of the remainder of those parts shall not be affected, with the remaining sections to continue in effect.