640.5 Responsibilities and procedures for preparation of an environmental impact statement.§ 640.5 Responsibilities and procedures for preparation of an environmental impact statement.
(a) If initially or after an environmental assessment has been completed, it is determined that an environmental impact statement should be prepared, it and other related documentation will be prepared by the directorate responsible for the action in accordance with section 102(2)(c) of the Act, this part, and the CEQ regulations. The responsible directorate will be in close communication with the grant or contract applicant and may have to rely extensively on his or her input in preparing the EIS. However, once a document is prepared it shall be submitted to the Chairman who, after such review by the Committee as is deemed necessary by the Chairman, shall transmit the document as required by CEQ regulations and this part. If the Chairman considers a document unsatisfactory, he or she shall return it to the responsible directorate for revision prior to an award decision.
Specifically, the following steps, as discussed in the CEQ regulations, will be followed in preparing an EIS:
(1) A notice of intent to prepare a draft EIS will be published as described in 40 CFR 1501.7.
(2) Scoping, as described in 40 CFR 1501.7, will be conducted.
(3) The format and contents of the draft and final EIS shall be as discussed in 40 CFR part 1502.
(4) Comments on the draft EIS shall be invited as set forth in 40 CFR 1503.1. The minimum period to be afforded for comments on a draft EIS shall be 45 days, unless a lesser period is necessary to comply with other specific statutory requirements or in case of emergency circumstances, as described in 40 CFR 1506.11.
(5) The requirements of 40 CFR 1506.9 for filing of documents with the Environmental Protection Agency shall be followed.
(6) The responsible directorate shall examine carefully the basis on which supportive studies have been conducted to assure that such studies are objective and comprehensive in scope and in depth.
(7) The Act requires that the decisionmaking involved “utilize a systematic, interdisciplinary approach that will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts.” If such disciplines are not present on the NSF staff, appropriate use should be made of personnel of Federal, State, and local agencies, universities, non-profit organizations, or private industry.
(8) A copy of the draft EIS or the final EIS (or a summary, if the size of the EIS does not make this practical) shall be included in and accompany the appropriate proposal throughout the NSF internal review and approval process.
(b)(1) 40 CFR 1506.1 describes the types of actions that should not be taken during the NEPA process. Such actions shall be avoided by NSF personnel during the process of preparation of an EIS and for a period of thirty days after the final EIS is filed with EPA, unless such actions are necessary to comply with other specific statutory requirements.
(2) 40 CFR 1506.10 also places certain limitations on the timing of agency decisions on taking “major Federal actions”. In some cases the actual “decision point” may be more clear-cut than others. If the “action” that necessitated the preparation of an EIS is one that would be carried out under grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, then the award shall not be made before the times set forth in 40 CFR 1506.10, unless such action is necessary to comply with other specific statutory requirements, or as exceptions are needed as provided in 40 CFR 1506.10, 1506.11, or 1507.3. However, an award for preliminary planning proposals may be made before such times if it is so structured as to require further NSF approvals for funding the actual actions that might adversely affect the quality of the human environment. In such cases, the subsequent approvals for funding these actions will be considered the “decision”. This is consistent with the requirement that environmental considerations undergo concurrent review with all other project planning considerations.
(c) In appropriate cases, if the action involves other agencies, the Chairman may agree to designate another agency as “lead agency” and to cooperate as discussed in 40 CFR 1501.5 and 1501.6. In such cases, the Chairman has authority to alter the procedures described in (a) to the extent they are inconsistent with functions assigned to NSF under the “cooperating agency” arrangements.
(d) A public record of decision stating what the decision was; identifying alternatives that were considered, including the environmentally preferable one(s); discussing any national policy considerations that entered into the decision; and summarizing a monitoring and enforcement program if applicable for mitigation, will be prepared. This record of decision will be prepared at the time the decision is made, or if appropriate, when the agency makes its recommendation for action to Congress. (See 40 CFR 1505.2.)