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What's New Last updated 4/21/14

  • National Online Dialogue on the Use and Scope of Programmatic Approaches in Environmental Reviews - The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are sponsoring a National Online Dialogue on the use and scope of programmatic approaches to conduct environmental reviews for transportation projects to address a rulemaking requirement of MAP-21. This outreach is to ensure the perspectives and ideas of all stakeholders are considered in preparation for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The National Online Dialogue will be open until May 16, 2014.
  • Guidance – NEPA Financial Penalty Provisions in MAP-21 - Guidance on financial penalty provisions contained in MAP-21 has been released in the Federal Register. The provisions require Federal agencies of jurisdiction (Reviewing Agencies) to render a decision on a permit, license, or other approval related to a transportation project within 180 days from later of: (a) the date of a Record of Decision or Finding or No Significant Impacts or (b) the date on which an application for a permit, license, or approval for the project is complete. If the Reviewing Agency does not render a decision by the 180-day deadline, it is subject to a rescission of funds until a decision is rendered. This guidance provides a framework for FHWA/FTA to make "no-fault" certifications and serves to help inform agency-specific implementation by the Reviewing Agencies. The guidance is now available on the FHWA MAP-21 website at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/qandas/qasect1306.cfm
  • Two New Categorical Exclusions Streamline NEPA Compliance - MAP-21 required that the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit administration to amend their joint procedures to streamline compliance with the National Environmental Polocy Act (NEPA) by designating two types of actions as categorical exclusions (CEs): (1) Any project (as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101(a)) within an existing operational right-of-way; and (2) any project that receives limited Federal funding. On January 13, 2014, FHWA and FTA completed a rulemaking process by publishing in the Federal Register a joint final rule that created two new CEs for the agencies. The rule took effect on February 12, 2014.
  • SHRP2 Implementation Assistance Program - Technical assistance opportunities have been awarded to eighteen agencies that applied during SHRP2’s Round 2 of the Implementation Assistance Program. Round 3 closed in February 2014, and Round 4 will take place in June 2014. For more information visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/goshrp2.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Updated List of Contacts - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has updated its list of transportation contacts in its Region and Field offices. View the list here, and also in the CoP Resource Library.
  • Example NEPA/404 Merger Agreements Posted - Two sample NEPA/404 merger agreements from Colorado and North Carolina have been posted to the Resource Library. In addition, the Maryland State Highway Administration’s process for streamlined environmental and regulatory reviews is also posted to the Resource Library.
  • Interim Guidance on MAP-21 Section 1319 - The Interim Guidance on MAP-21 Section 1319 Accelerated Decisionmaking in Environmental Reviews, issued January 14, 2013, provides information on when the use of errata sheets is appropriate and what to consider when deciding whether to use a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision process for a particular project. The interim guidance is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/MAP21 and also in the CoP resource library.
  • EPA 2012 National Water Program Strategy – EPA announced the release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2012 National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change. The document describes how EPA’s water-related programs plan to address the impacts of climate change. It describes long-term visions, goals and strategic actions for the management of sustainable water resources for future generations in five key areas: infrastructure, watersheds and wetlands, coastal and ocean waters, water quality, and working with Tribes. It also includes EPA's goals and strategic actions in 10 geographic climate regions.

    The 2012 Strategy emphasizes working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders, developing information and tools, incorporating adaptation into core programs, and managing risks of impacts including from extreme weather events. EPA looks forward to continuing to work with partners and stakeholders to build the nation's resilience to the impacts of climate change. To read the Strategy and learn more about the impacts of climate change on water resources, visit: http://www.epa.gov/water/climatechange.
  • EPA Extends "Good Samaritan" Liability Waiver - On December 12, 2012, EPA issued guidance long-sought by Western lawmakers aimed at providing additional liability protections under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Superfund law for innocent parties, known as "Good Samaritans," that seek to voluntarily remediate abandoned hard rock mines but have been hampered by potential liabilities.

    In the Dec. 12 guidance, issued jointly by EPA’s enforcement, waste and water offices, the agency reiterated its 2007 policy exempting the parties from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements while they are remediating sites under various Superfund liability protection mechanisms. The agency also extended the NPDES exemption after cleanups are complete if the parties can demonstrate they are no longer “operators” at the site. (See a news story about the announcement from The Durango Herald here.)

For more information, please contact Marlys Osterhues (marlys.osterhues@dot.gov, 202-366-2052) or Tricia Harr (tricia.harr@dot.gov, 202-366-9214).

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