FORTY MOST ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

State and Federal Agencies as Joint Lead Agencies


22. Do state and federal agencies serve as joint lead agencies? If so, how do they resolve laws, policies and resource conflicts under NEPA and the relevant state environmental act? How do they resolve differences in perspective where, for example, national and local needs differ?

Answer:

Under Section 1501.5(b), federal, state or local agencies, as long as they include one federal agency, may act as joint lead agencies to prepare an EIS. Section 1506.2 also strongly urges state and local agencies to cooperate fully with each other. This should cover joint research and studies, planning activities, public hearings, environmental assessments and the preparation of joint EISs under NEPA and the relevant "little NEPA" state laws, so that one document will satisfy both laws. The regulations also recognize that certain inconsistencies may exist between the proposed federal action and any approved state or local plan or law. The joint document should discuss the extent to which the federal agency would reconcile its proposed action with such plan or law.Section 1506.2(d). (See Question 23). Because there may be differences in perspectives as well as conflicts among federal, state and local goals for resources management, the Council has advised participating agencies to adopt a flexible, cooperative approach. The joint EIS should reflect all of their interests and missions, clearly identified as such. The final document would then indicate how state and local interests have been accommodated or would identify conflicts in goals (e.g., how a hydroelectric project, which might induce second home development, would require new land use controls). The EIS must contain a complete discussion of scope and purpose of the proposal, alternatives, and impacts so that the discussion is adequate to meet the needs of local, state and federal decisionmakers.

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