NB_190_10_8 - NB_190_10_8, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Cooperating Agency Status Report
NB_190_10_8, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Cooperating Agency Status Report
National Bulletin: 190-10-8  Date: December 10, 2009 
Subject: ECS - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Cooperating Agency Status Report 

Action Required By:   January 8, 2010   
Purpose.    To obtain progress information related to the invitation of Federal agencies to be cooperating agencies on Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) NEPA Environmental Assessments (EA) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).   
Expiration Date.    September 30, 2010 
Background.   General Manual, Title 190, Part 410, Compliance with NEPA, states NRCS policy for implementing NEPA provisions.  Section 410.9, NEPA and Interagency Planning, describes NRCS’ responsibility for requesting assistance of cooperating agencies in preparing NEPA documents.  This policy is based on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA.

NRCS and CEQ regulations implementing NEPA require NRCS to:

(1)  Define cooperating agencies as Federal, Tribal, State, or local government agencies with jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved in a proposal for Federal action or reasonable alternative to the proposed action; and

(2)  Require lead agencies to request the participation of cooperating agencies at the earliest possible time in the NEPA process when an EIS is to be prepared, and encourage cooperating agencies to take an active part when an EA is to be prepared in lieu of an EIS.  (See definition of “lead agency” at 40 C.F.R.1501.5, http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/ceq/1501.htm#1501.5.)

CEQ requires annual reports regarding cooperating agency involvement in all EAs and EIS’.  (See the December 2004 memorandum, “Report on Cooperating Agencies in Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act” at http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/connaughton.pdf.)  The report now due will cover the period from October 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009.



Explanation.    All State Conservationists and Directors, Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas, are to submit reports for the period beginning October 1, 2008, and ending September 30, 2009.  For each EA and EIS for which NRCS was the lead agency, report the following information using the format shown at http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/guidance.html under “CEQ Memorandum to Heads of Federal Agencies:  Reporting Cooperating Agencies in Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act” (see Attachment).

(1)  For EIS’ with a Notice of Intent published between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009, report:

       (i)  The title of the EIS.

       (ii)  The names of the cooperating agencies for the EIS.

       (iii)  The names of agencies which declined an invitation to participate as a cooperating agency, or who requested but failed to reach agreement on establishing cooperating agency status.

       (iv)  Agencies whose cooperating agency status was ended and the reason(s).

(2)  For EAs, the lead agency will report:

      (i)  The number of EAs completed between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009.

      (ii)  The number of those EAs which included participation of one or more cooperating agencies.

      (iii)  The reasons agencies did not accept invitations, or reach agreement to participate as cooperating agencies, or ended the cooperating agency status prior to completing the EA.

Negative reports are required.  The Data Quality Act applies to the information we report, so it is important to be accurate.

Submit copies of all reports, including negative reports, to the Ecological Sciences Division (ESD) no later than Friday, January 8, 2010.  Reports are to be sent by electronic mail to james.j.campbell@wdc.usda.gov; by facsimile to (202) 720-1814; or by regular mail to James Campbell, NRCS, ESD, Room 6158-South, Post Office Box 2890, Washington, D.C. 20013.

For more information, see the above-referenced guidance, the “Cooperating Agency Report to the Council on Environmental Quality Frequently Asked Questions and Answers” at http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/Attach2FAQsDec04.pdf, and other related documents at http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/guidance.html.

Contact.    For further information, contact the National Environmental Coordinator, ESD, at (202) 720-4925. 



Acting Deputy Chief for Science and Technology

[NB_190_10_8 - December 2009]