Categorical Exclusion means a category or kind of action that has no significant individual or cumulative effect on the quality of the human environment. See 40 CFR 1508.4.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, if an action is covered by a Departmental categorical exclusion, the bureau is not required to prepare an environmental assessment (see subpart D of this part) or an environmental impact statement (see subpart E of this part). If a proposed action does not meet the criteria for any of the listed Departmental categorical exclusions or any of the individual bureau categorical exclusions, then the proposed action must be analyzed in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.
(b) The actions listed in section 46.210 are categorically excluded, Department-wide, from preparation of environmental assessments or environmental impact statements.
(c) The CEQ Regulations at 40 CFR 1508.4 require agency procedures to provide for extraordinary circumstances in which a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental effect and require additional analysis and action. Section 46.215 lists the extraordinary circumstances under which actions otherwise covered by a categorical exclusion require analyses under NEPA.
(1) Any action that is normally categorically excluded must be evaluated to determine whether it meets any of the extraordinary circumstances in section 46.215; if it does, further analysis and environmental documents must be prepared for the action.
(2) Bureaus must work within existing administrative frameworks, including any existing programmatic agreements, when deciding how to apply any of the section 46.215 extraordinary circumstances.
(d) Congress may establish categorical exclusions by legislation, in which case the terms of the legislation determine how to apply those categorical exclusions.