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Environmental Rulemaking News

  • On August 23, 2019, USDOT published the “Interim Policy on One Federal Decision Implementation” and “Interim Policy on Page Limits for NEPA Documents and Focused Analyses” in the Federal Register. Although, the One Federal Decision (OFD) guidance applies specifically to “major infrastructure projects” (MIPs) following the OFD process, the concepts contained within the document can be applied to non-OFD projects. The page limits guidance applies to environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental assessments (EA) initiated after the August 23rd publication and limits EISs to 150 pages (or 300 pages for EISs of unusual scope or complexity) and EAs to 75 pages.
  • The Program Comment to Exempt Consideration of Effects to Rail Properties within Rail Rights-of-Way is an alternate method for certain activities affecting rail properties located within railroad and rail transit right-of-way to comply with the requirements of Section 106 that went into effect on August 24, 2018. Please visit the Environmental Programs page for more information.
  • USDOT issued a Federal Register notice on October 29, 2018 for the “Environmental Impact and Related Procedures” final rule that amends FHWA and FTA regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 4(f) requirements: The final rule implements changes resulting from MAP-21 and the FAST Act to the FHWA/FTA regulations implementing NEPA (23 CFR part 771) and Section 4(f) requirements (23 CFR part 774). In addition, the rule will add FRA to 23 CFR parts 771 and 774, which will allow greater efficiency for multimodal projects with railroad project components. Some noteworthy changes include Cross-Agency CE use and new Section 4(f) Exemptions. The revisions to the NEPA and 4(f) regulations are effective November 28, 2018. Guidance is currently under development. 

NEPA Guidance

This page provides guidance to support grantee reviews and FTA compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. NEPA mandates must be met before FTA can approve applications for federal financial assistance.  FTA's environmental analysis and review process outlines how the agency complies with NEPA, which applies to all federal undertakings. Other useful tools for NEPA analysis include the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) general NEPA guidance and NEPAssist Tool.

The first step in the NEPA review process is determining the Class of Action (COA), which directs the depth and breadth of review, based on the "what," "where," "why," "when," and "how" of your project. The three NEPA COAs are defined in the FTA regulations at 23 CFR 771.115.

The following documents will provide guidance in determining the level of review and documentation development necessary for the FTA NEPA process:

Please visit FTA’s Environmental Resource Information for additional guidance in preparing NEPA documentation. Direct links to FTA guidance on select areas of analysis as well as resources specific to Region 5 are provided below.

Tribal consultation may be required for all types of NEPA projects if they affect tribal lands or interests. Projects involving historic resources must follow the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 Process. Additionally, projects that may impact publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and/or public and private historical sites must comply with the requirements of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.  Contact Jay Ciavarella, Director of Planning & Program Development, at (312) 353-1653 with additional questions.

Tribal Consultation Resources

National Historic Preservation Act – Section 106

Water Resources

Other Considerations & Resources

Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
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