Use and Documentation of Categorical Exclusions

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2015-04-01

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Abstract

The Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations define “categorical exclusion” as “a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect in procedures adopted by a Federal agency in implementation of these regulations (§ 1507.3) and for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required.” 40 CFR § 1508.4. The CEQ regulations go on to state that “[a]n agency may decide in its procedures or otherwise, to prepare environmental assessments for the reasons stated in § 1508.9 even though it is not required to do so. Any procedures under this section shall provide for extraordinary circumstances in which a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental effect.” 40 CFR § 1508.4. This capstone paper evaluates CEQ guidance regarding categorical exclusions, and how a handful of agencies are using and documenting categorical exclusions. Specifically, the paper explores changes in CEQ guidance over the years. In addition, it evaluates a couple of agency’s procedures for applying and documenting categorical exclusions. Finally, the paper addresses related judicial decisions.

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Bielecki, Jessica (2015). Use and Documentation of Categorical Exclusions. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9549.


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