40 CFR 1502 - CEQ - Regulations for Implementing NEPA
Authority: NEPA, the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, as
amended (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.), sec. 309 of the Clean Air Act, as
amended (42 U.S.C. 7609), and E.O. 11514 (Mar. 5, 1970, as amended by E.O. 11991,
May 24, 1977).
Source: 43 FR 55994, Nov. 29, 1978, unless otherwise noted.
Sec. 1502.1 Purpose.
The primary purpose of an environmental impact statement is to serve as
an action-forcing device to insure that the policies and goals defined in the
Act are infused into the ongoing programs and actions of the Federal
Government. It shall provide full and fair discussion of significant
environmental impacts and shall inform decisionmakers and the public of
the reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or
enhance the quality of the human environment. Agencies shall focus on
significant environmental issues and alternatives and shall reduce
paperwork and the accumulation of extraneous background data. Statements shall be
concise, clear, and to the point, and shall be supported by evidence that
the agency has made the necessary environmental analyses. An environmental
impact statement is more than a disclosure document. It shall be used by Federal
officials in conjunction with other relevant material to plan actions and
Sec. 1502.2 Implementation.
To achieve the purposes set forth in Sec. 1502.1 agencies shall prepare
environmental impact statements in the following manner:
Sec. 1502.3 Statutory requirements for statements.
As required by sec. 102(2)(C) of NEPA environmental impact statements
(Sec. 1508.11) are to be included in every recommendation or report.
Sec. 1502.4 Major Federal actions requiring the preparation of environmental
Sec. 1502.5 Timing.
An agency shall commence preparation of an environmental impact
statement as close as possible to the time the agency is developing or is presented
with a proposal (Sec. 1508.23) so that preparation can be completed in
time for the final statement to be included in any recommendation or report on
the proposal. The statement shall be prepared early enough so that it can
serve practically as an important contribution to the decisionmaking process and
will not be used to rationalize or justify decisions already made (Secs.
1500.2(c), 1501.2, and 1502.2). For instance:
Sec. 1502.6 Interdisciplinary preparation.
Environmental impact statements shall be prepared using an inter-
disciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural
and social sciences and the environmental design arts (section 102(2)(A) of
the Act). The disciplines of the preparers shall be appropriate to the scope
and issues identified in the scoping process (Sec. 1501.7).
Sec. 1502.7 Page limits.
The text of final environmental impact statements (e.g., paragraphs (d)
through (g) of Sec. 1502.10) shall normally be less than 150 pages and for
proposals of unusual scope or complexity shall normally be less than 300
Sec. 1502.8 Writing.
Environmental impact statements shall be written in plain language and
may use appropriate graphics so that decisionmakers and the public can readily
understand them. Agencies should employ writers of clear prose or editors
to write, review, or edit statements, which will be based upon the analysis
and supporting data from the natural and social sciences and the environmental
Sec. 1502.9 Draft, final, and supplemental statements.
Except for proposals for legislation as provided in Sec. 1506.8
environmental impact statements shall be prepared in two stages and may be
Sec. 1502.10 Recommended format.
Agencies shall use a format for environmental impact statements which
will encourage good analysis and clear presentation of the alternatives
including the proposed action. The following standard format for environmental
impact statements should be followed unless the agency determines that there is a
compelling reason to do otherwise:
If a different format is used, it shall include paragraphs (a), (b), (c),
(h), (i), and (j), of this section and shall include the substance of
paragraphs (d), (e), (f), (g), and (k) of this section, as further
described in Secs. 1502.11 through 1502.18, in any appropriate format.
Sec. 1502.11 Cover sheet.
The cover sheet shall not exceed one page. It shall include:
The information required by this section may be entered on Standard Form
424 (in items 4, 6, 7, 10, and 18).
Sec. 1502.12 Summary.
Each environmental impact statement shall contain a summary which
adequately and accurately summarizes the statement. The summary shall
stress the major conclusions, areas of controversy (including issues raised by
agencies and the public), and the issues to be resolved (including the
choice among alternatives). The summary will normally not exceed 15 pages.
Sec. 1502.13 Purpose and need.
The statement shall briefly specify the underlying purpose and need to
which the agency is responding in proposing the alternatives including the
Sec. 1502.14 Alternatives including the proposed action.
This section is the heart of the environmental impact statement. Based
on the information and analysis presented in the sections on the Affected
Environment (Sec. 1502.15) and the Environmental Consequences (Sec.
1502.16), it should present the environmental impacts of the proposal and the
alternatives in comparative form, thus sharply defining the issues and
providing a clear basis for choice among options by the decisionmaker and
the public. In this section agencies shall:
Sec. 1502.15 Affected environment.
The environmental impact statement shall succinctly describe the
environment of the area(s) to be affected or created by the alternatives
under consideration. The descriptions shall be no longer than is necessary
understand the effects of the alternatives. Data and analyses in a
shall be commensurate with the importance of the impact, with less
material summarized, consolidated, or simply referenced. Agencies shall
useless bulk in statements and shall concentrate effort and attention on
important issues. Verbose descriptions of the affected environment are
themselves no measure of the adequacy of an environmental impact
Sec. 1502.16 Environmental consequences.
This section forms the scientific and analytic basis for the comparisons
under Sec. 1502.14. It shall consolidate the discussions of those elements
required by sections 102(2)(C)(i), (ii), (iv), and (v) of NEPA which are
within the scope of the statement and as much of section 102(2)(C)(iii) as
is necessary to support the comparisons. The discussion will include the
environmental impacts of the alternatives including the proposed action,
any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal
be implemented, the relationship between short-term uses of man's environment
and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and any
irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources which would be
involved in the proposal should it be implemented. This section should not
duplicate discussions in Sec. 1502.14. It shall include discussions of:
[43 FR 55994, Nov. 29, 1978; 44 FR 873, Jan. 3, 1979]
Sec. 1502.17 List of preparers.
The environmental impact statement shall list the names, together with
their qualifications (expertise, experience, professional disciplines), of
the persons who were primarily responsible for preparing the environmental
impact statement or significant background papers, including basic
components of the statement (Secs. 1502.6 and 1502.8). Where possible the persons who
are responsible for a particular analysis, including analyses in
background papers, shall be identified. Normally the list will not exceed two pages.
Sec. 1502.18 Appendix.
If an agency prepares an appendix to an environmental impact statement
the appendix shall:
Sec. 1502.19 Circulation of the environmental impact statement.
Agencies shall circulate the entire draft and final environmental impact
statements except for certain appendices as provided in Sec. 1502.18(d)
and unchanged statements as provided in Sec. 1503.4(c). However, if the
statement is unusually long, the agency may circulate the summary instead, except
that the entire statement shall be furnished to:
If the agency circulates the summary and thereafter receives a timely
request for the entire statement and for additional time to comment, the time for
that requestor only shall be extended by at least 15 days beyond the
Sec. 1502.20 Tiering.
Agencies are encouraged to tier their environmental impact statements to
eliminate repetitive discussions of the same issues and to focus on the
actual issues ripe for decision at each level of environmental review
(Sec. 1508.28). Whenever a broad environmental impact statement has been
prepared (such as a program or policy statement) and a subsequent statement or
environmental assessment is then prepared on an action included within the
entire program or policy (such as a site specific action) the subsequent
statement or environmental assessment need only summarize the issues
discussed in the broader statement and incorporate discussions from the
broader statement by reference and shall concentrate on the issues
to the subsequent action. The subsequent document shall state where the
earlier document is available. Tiering may also be appropriate for
different stages of actions. (Section 1508.28).
Sec. 1502.21 Incorporation by reference.
Agencies shall incorporate material into an environmental impact
statement by reference when the effect will be to cut down on bulk without impeding
agency and public review of the action. The incorporated material shall be
cited in the statement and its content briefly described. No material may
be incorporated by reference unless it is reasonably available for inspection
by potentially interested persons within the time allowed for comment.
Material based on proprietary data which is itself not available for review and
comment shall not be incorporated by reference.
Sec. 1502.22 Incomplete or unavailable information.
When an agency is evaluating reasonably foreseeable significant adverse
effects on the human environment in an environmental impact statement and
there is incomplete or unavailable information, the agency shall always
make clear that such information is lacking.
Sec. 1502.23 Cost-benefit analysis.
If a cost-benefit analysis relevant to the choice among environmentally
different alternatives is being considered for the proposed action, it
shall be incorporated by reference or appended to the statement as an aid in
evaluating the environmental consequences. To assess the adequacy of
compliance with section 102(2)(B) of the Act the statement shall, when a
cost-benefit analysis is prepared, discuss the relationship between that
analysis and any analyses of unquantified environmental impacts, values,
and amenities. For purposes of complying with the Act, the weighing of the
merits and drawbacks of the various alternatives need not be displayed in a
cost-benefit analysis and should not be when there are important
considerations. In any event, an environmental impact statement should at
least indicate those considerations, including factors not related to
environmental quality, which are likely to be relevant and important to a
Sec. 1502.24 Methodology and scientific accuracy.
Agencies shall insure the professional integrity, including scientific
integrity, of the discussions and analyses in environmental impact
statements. They shall identify any methodologies used and shall make
explicit reference by footnote to the scientific and other sources relied
upon for conclusions in the statement. An agency may place discussion of
methodology in an appendix.
Sec. 1502.25 Environmental review and consultation requirements.