[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 246 (Tuesday, December 23, 2014)]
[Pages 76986-76990]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30034]



Final Guidance for Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA Reviews

AGENCY: Council on Environmental Quality.

ACTION: Notice of Availability, Final Guidance for Effective Use of 
Programmatic NEPA Reviews.


SUMMARY: The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is issuing its 
final guidance on programmatic National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
reviews. This guidance provides clarification on when and how Federal 
agencies should use programmatic environmental analyses in accordance 
with NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4332, and the CEQ Regulations for Implementing the 
Procedural Provisions of NEPA, 40 CFR parts 1500-1508. Guidance on 
programmatic NEPA reviews has been requested by the agencies and 
attention on programmatic NEPA reviews has increased as agencies 
undertake more broad landscape-scale analyses for proposals that affect 
the resources they manage. This guidance is designed to assist agency 
decisionmakers and the public in understanding the environmental 
impacts from proposed large-scope Federal actions and activities and to 
facilitate agency compliance with NEPA by clarifying the different 
planning scenarios under which an agency may prepare a programmatic, 
broad-scale, review. The guidance also addresses how agencies can 
prepare such reviews to ensure they are timely, informative, and useful 
for advancing decision-making. The goal of this guidance is to 
encourage a more consistent approach to programmatic NEPA reviews so 
that the analyses and documentation will allow for the expeditious and 
efficient completion of any necessary tiered reviews. It builds on 
previous guidance that explained the use of tiering and its place in 
the NEPA process.

DATES: The guidance is effective December 23, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The Final Guidance for Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA 
Reviews is available at White House Web site (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa) and on the 
National Environmental Policy Act Web site (www.nepa.gov). Paper copies 
are available upon request by contacting the CEQ Associate Director for 
National Environmental Policy Act Oversight, 722 Jackson Place NW., 
Washington, DC 20503. Telephone: (202) 395-5750.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Council on Environmental Quality 
(ATTN: Horst Greczmiel, Associate Director for National Environmental 
Policy Act Oversight), 722 Jackson Place NW., Washington, DC 20503. 
Telephone: (202) 395-5750.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Enacted in 1970, the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370, is a fundamental tool used to 
harmonize our environmental, economic, and social aspirations and is a 
cornerstone of our Nation's efforts to protect the environment. NEPA 
recognizes that many Federal activities affect the environment and 
mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of 
their proposed actions before deciding to adopt proposals and take 
action.\1\ NEPA environmental reviews (the analyses and documentation 
prepared under NEPA) may be on the project-specific or on broader 
programmatic level. The analyses in a programmatic NEPA review are 
valuable in setting out the broad view of environmental impacts and 
benefits for a proposed decision such as a rulemaking, or establishing 
a policy, program, or plan. That programmatic NEPA review (e.g., 
Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA), Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS)) can then be relied upon when agencies make 
decisions based on the programmatic EA or programmatic EIS, as well as 
decisions based on a subsequent (also known as tiered) NEPA review. 
Programmatic NEPA reviews should result in clearer and more transparent 
decision-making, as well as provide a better defined and more 
expeditious path toward decisions on proposed actions. This guidance 
clarifies the use of programmatic NEPA reviews by describing: (1) The 
nature of programmatic NEPA reviews; (2) when to use a programmatic and 
tiered NEPA review; (3) practical considerations for programmatic 
reviews and documents; (4) how to effectively conduct subsequent 
proposal-specific NEPA reviews; and (5) the lifespan of a programmatic 
NEPA document.

    \1\ A discussion of NEPA applicability is beyond the scope of 
this guidance. For more information see CEQ, The Citizen's Guide to 
the National Environmental Policy Act, available at https://ceq.doe.gov/nepa/Citizens_Guide_Dec07.pdf.

    The Federal Register notice announcing the draft programmatic 
guidance and requesting public comments was published on August 22, 
2014.\2\ CEQ appreciates the thoughtful responses to its request for 
comments on the draft guidance. Commenters included private citizens, 
corporations, environmental organizations, trade associations, federal 
agencies, and state agencies. CEQ received twenty-eight public 
comments, which are available online at www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/comments and at www.nepa.gov. 
The comments that suggested editorial revisions and requested 
clarification of terms are addressed in the text of the final guidance. 
Comments that raised policy or substantive concerns are grouped into 
thematic issues and addressed in the following sections of this notice.

    \2\ National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Draft Guidance, 
Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA Reviews, 79 FR 50,578, August 22, 

Highlighting the Value of NEPA

    Many commenters expressed support for CEQ's efforts to encourage 
timely and efficient use of the NEPA environmental review process to 
inform agency decision-making. Some commenters asserted that the draft 
guidance did not adequately highlight NEPA's value and successes. These 
commenters urged CEQ to further discuss how NEPA is an effective tool 
for ensuring fully informed decision-making and meaningful public 
    CEQ agrees and expanded the introduction of the final guidance to 
incorporate a broader discussion of NEPA's role in assisting agencies 
in decision-making and providing opportunity for meaningful public 
participation. This final guidance was developed to provide for the 
consistent, proper, and appropriate development and use of programmatic 
NEPA reviews by Federal agencies. It reinforces the process required to 
establish opportunities for public involvement, increased transparency, 
and informed decision-making.

Applicability to Environmental Assessments

    One commenter asked for further explanation as to why programmatic 
approaches apply to developing an Environmental Assessment (EA) as well 
as Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

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    CEQ interprets its regulations as allowing for the use of a 
programmatic approach in developing an EA. Neither the NEPA statute nor 
CEQ's regulations prohibit programmatic approaches for an EA. Each 
federal agency has its own agency NEPA implementing procedures which 
adapt the framework established by the CEQ regulations to address 
agency specific missions and decision-making authority. Agencies are 
encouraged to revise or amend their NEPA implementing procedures, if 
necessary, to allow for the use of programmatic EAs and EISs.

Request for More Examples

    Many commenters requested additional case studies and examples to 
show real-world applications of programmatic NEPA review. Some 
commenters also requested examples of where programmatic NEPA review 
would not be appropriate. Several commenters requested more examples of 
instances where programmatic NEPA review allowed for informed decision-
making, meaningful public involvement, and adequately addressed site-
specific impacts.
    To address these comments, CEQ has added more examples and legal 
authorities, where appropriate, and tried to provide them wherever they 
are helpful and illustrative. If CEQ learns of other helpful examples, 
they will periodically be made available on the NEPA.gov Web site.

Concerns About Delay

    Some commenters expressed concern over the timeliness and burden of 
programmatic NEPA reviews. One commenter stated that tiered 
programmatic NEPA reviews may lead to unproductive additional layers of 
review and therefore may encourage undue delay, cost, and inefficiency. 
This commenter raised an example of how a programmatic review for a 
corridor will lead to duplicative review when individual projects are 
    The final guidance emphasizes that agencies are given the 
discretion to determine whether programmatic NEPA review will be an 
effective and efficient way to address environmental impacts. If an 
agency determines that a broad-level analysis and review of a proposal 
allows informed and meaningful decision-making, the agency should have 
the flexibility to do so. Although the commenter argues that a tiered 
approach to review constitutes ``delay,'' CEQ finds that in many 
situations there is merit in looking at a proposal on a broad level and 
then focusing a subsequent, tiered, review on the relevant issues at 
the site- or project-specific level. The agency responsible for the 
NEPA review should take the timing of the decisions and the 
programmatic and subsequent tiered NEPA reviews into account when 
determining how best to proceed.

When To Use Programmatic Review

    Several commenters requested that CEQ include a test or presumption 
about when using a programmatic approach is appropriate. One commenter 
advocated for a test as set out by Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 427 U.S. 390 
(1976). Another commenter requested that CEQ include a presumption 
against programmatic NEPA review because case-by-case analysis of 
projects will provide more robust environmental analysis and public 
involvement. Conversely, another commenter urged CEQ to mandate when 
agencies should conduct programmatic review for projects that affect a 
common geographic region or a suite of similar projects.
    CEQ rejects the use of a set test that would be applicable across 
all agencies and the use of a default presumption. As written in the 
final guidance, agencies have discretion to determine whether a 
programmatic approach is appropriate. A default presumption may limit 
agency flexibility and be too prescriptive. Kleppe does not establish a 
hard line test and, instead, explains that agencies have the technical 
expertise and discretion to determine whether a programmatic review is 
appropriate. The final guidance explains that each agency should 
determine the circumstances in which it is appropriate to prepare 
programmatic NEPA documentation. The agency preparing the NEPA review 
is responsible for tailoring the review to the type of action involved 
while taking into account the potential efficiencies, maximizing 
informed decision-making, and ensuring compliance with other laws, 
regulations, and policies relevant to the decision at hand.

Programmatic Documents as a Stand-Alone Document

    Several commenters raised concerns about whether agencies may 
prepare a single NEPA document to support both programmatic and 
project-specific proposals. Some commenters have urged CEQ to create a 
default presumption that programmatic reviews alone are inappropriate.
    The final guidance makes it clear that any Federal agency program 
charged with complying with NEPA has the discretion to determine when a 
programmatic NEPA review is appropriate. CEQ declines to create a 
default presumption but has added language to provide more clarity and 
guidance about when a NEPA review includes both programmatic and 
project-specific decisions, as well as when a single programmatic NEPA 
review is appropriate. For example, a single programmatic NEPA review 
may be appropriate when an agency plans to make a broad program 
decision. When both programmatic and project-specific decisions are 
being made, the NEPA review should be clear in identifying the 
decisions and the environmental analysis to support those decisions.

Proper Use of Tiering

    A few commenters raised concerns about when a programmatic EIS may 
be tiered from a previous programmatic NEPA review. One commenter 
expressed that improper tiering to subsequent actions could lead to 
delay, an unnecessary use of time and resources, and an improper 
substantive analysis of environmental impacts. This commenter, along 
with another commenter, requested that any tiered documents are only 
required to analyze new impacts that were not previously addressed. 
Conversely, another commenter stated that tiered review is the greatest 
opportunity for a recognized benefit of programmatic review and that 
they should be further encouraged.
    The final guidance makes it clear that the Federal agency program 
responsible for complying with NEPA has the discretion to determine 
whether a programmatic NEPA review is appropriate. A programmatic NEPA 
review followed by a tiered NEPA review is appropriate when such an 
approach provides a framework for agencies to help public officials 
make timely decisions based on an understanding of the environmental 
consequences relevant to the decision at hand. As a result, CEQ finds 
it inappropriate to establish a presumption that substantive analysis 
is unnecessary or should be precluded in subsequent tiered documents. 
Finally, new examples have been added that explain that one level of 
review may be sufficient in certain cases--such as when an agency 
undergoes rulemaking, adopts an agency-wide policy, adopts a formal 
plan, or redesigns an existing program--and that a programmatic EA is 
not invalidated when the subsequent decision requires preparation of an 

Tiering From a Programmatic EA With Findings of No Significant Impact

    A few commenters expressed concerns about scenarios where an agency 
has a PEA that results in a finding of no significant impact (FONSI)

[[Page 76988]]

and then tiers to a subsequent project-specific EIS. One commenter 
stated that it seems counterintuitive that a programmatic Environmental 
Assessment supported by a FONSI could approve a number or actions that 
then lead to a NEPA analysis for a project that has the potential for a 
significant impact on the environment.
    The final guidance has been modified to contain two examples of how 
a programmatic environmental impact statement may tier from a 
programmatic EA. One example is that a programmatic EA may be used to 
articulate standard mitigation for a suite of similar projects, such as 
capturing vented methane. This programmatic EA may result in a FONSI 
and project-level construction that goes beyond the mitigation in the 
EA will require a programmatic EIS. The other example is that a 
programmatic EA may result in a FONSI but a subsequent proposal 
represents a unique or unexpected circumstance that raises the 
potential for significant impacts. In such a circumstance, a tiered EIS 
would not undermine or invalidate the programmatic EA which resulted in 
a FONSI. Additionally, the final guidance also makes clear that an 
agency should explain in all programmatic NEPA reviews how the agency 
intends to use it to complete future proposal-specific NEPA reviews.

Supplementation and New Information

    Some commenters raised concerns about when a programmatic review 
should be supplemented or when new information would substantially 
affect the programmatic analysis. One commenter requested that CEQ 
include language that, once a decision is made, there is no obligation 
for an agency to supplement a NEPA review. This commenter requested 
that in light of Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 542 U.S. 
55 (2004), any decision to approve a plan should be recognized as a 
completed decision and no supplements to a programmatic NEPA review are 
    CEQ has added a footnote in the final guidance to clarify the role 
of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. In that case the United States 
Supreme Court noted that an agency must take a ``hard look'' at new 
information to determine whether supplementation is necessary. 542 U.S. 
at 73 (citing Marsh v. Oregon Natural Resources Council, 490 U.S. 360, 
370-374 (1989)). The Court distinguished Southern Utah Wilderness 
Alliance in that there were no subsequent decisions to be made and 
there was no ongoing ``major Federal action'' that required 
supplementation. Id.
    The final guidance makes it clear that supplementation may be 
required when there are more decisions to be made by the agency that 
would use the original NEPA review. The programmatic NEPA review 
process may defer issues for subsequent tiers of review. Site- or 
project-specific impacts might not be fully evaluated at initial tiers 
of review when the decision to act on a site development or its 
equivalent is yet to be made. Agencies should, when decisions remain to 
be made and the Federal action is on-going, consider new information to 
determine if that would require updating or supplementing the 
programmatic NEPA review.
    Another commenter requested language in the final guidance that 
requires agencies to carefully reexamine any programmatic NEPA review 
that is more than five years-old to determine whether the criteria for 
supplementation must be met. This commenter notes that there are many 
cases where an agency fails to update a NEPA review even though there 
has been no construction or ongoing activity for five years. Another 
commenter asked CEQ to have agencies supplement their programmatic 
reviews, rather than address the information at the site-specific 
level, in situations where new information could affect the impacts of 
program as a whole.
    CEQ understands these concerns and further refined its discussion 
about supplementation. The CEQ regulations provide a procedural 
framework for keeping environmental analyses current. They require 
agencies to prepare supplements upon determining there is significant 
new information of relevance to the proposed action or its impacts. The 
final guidance acknowledges that there is a possibility of new 
information arising after an EA or EIS is completed that exists 
regardless of whether a NEPA review is programmatic. The requirements 
to update or supplement a NEPA review remains the same for programmatic 
as it does for non-programmatic NEPA reviews.

The Lifespan of Programmatic Documents

    Some commenters raised the concern about the lifespan of 
programmatic documents and asked for more clarity about when 
supplementation or a new programmatic NEPA review will be required. 
These commenters pointed out that, while programmatic NEPA reviews may 
discuss potential environmental impacts, the information can often 
become outdated and cannot be used for subsequent decision-making. One 
commenter suggested that the final guidance should mandate that an 
agency may not rely on any NEPA document that is more than ten years 
old. Another commenter suggested that all programmatic NEPA analysis 
should have set triggers for supplementation or expiration dates.
    The final guidance clearly states that agencies must consider and 
make reasonable efforts to anticipate the length of time the 
programmatic decision and its supporting NEPA review will be maintained 
and used for subsequent tiered reviews. There is no fixed timeline or 
expiration date for programmatic NEPA documents, just as there is no 
fixed timeline or expiration date for other types NEPA review. The 
final guidance refers to question 32 in CEQ's 40 Most Asked Questions, 
which states that as a rule of thumb, if the proposal has not yet been 
implemented, or if the EIS concerns an ongoing program, EISs that are 
more than five years old should be carefully reexamined to determine if 
a supplement is required. The final guidance does encourage agencies to 
determine the factors that may result in the need to supplement or 
refresh the analysis and communicate this to stakeholders. When a 
programmatic review is projected to have a long life span to be used 
for subsequent decision-making, the final guidance states that an 
agency should pay close attention to the possible effects of new 


    Several commenters requested more clarity on the appropriate use of 
alternative analysis in a programmatic NEPA review. One commenter asked 
for a narrower interpretation of what constitutes a ``reasonable 
alternative'' so that broad-level NEPA review is not unduly burdened. 
Other commenters asked that CEQ place particular emphasis on the 
importance of soliciting and considering alternatives developed outside 
of the lead agency, especially local government and publically-
developed alternatives. Several commenters suggest that limiting 
alternatives or general analysis in one review that is later relied 
upon in a subsequent site-specific NEPA review could limit meaningful 
and informed decision-making. They urged CEQ to amend the guidance to 
prohibit the use of programmatic NEPA reviews to narrow or restrict 
future alternatives for activities such as multifaceted actions or 
operating plans. Many commenters stated that alternatives and public 
involvement should not be narrowed down until site-specific impact 
analysis has been carried out.
    The final guidance emphasizes that alternatives in a programmatic 

[[Page 76989]]

review are expected to reflect the level of the Federal action being 
proposed and the standard NEPA requirements for alternatives apply. 
``Reasonable alternatives'' depend on the nature of the proposal and 
the facts of the case. Factors in determining whether an alternative is 
reasonable include the purpose and need for the decision and its 
effects on the environment and on the affected community(s), as well as 
the state of the technologies available to achieve the proposed 
outcome. The final guidance makes clear that, by articulating the 
reasoned choice between alternatives, with a discussion of why 
considered alternatives were not chosen, the range of alternatives in 
programmatic NEPA reviews can be appropriately narrowed.
    CEQ supports public and local government involvement in the NEPA 
process, including the development of alternatives. Non-agency 
alternatives can be considered in any NEPA process, regardless of 
whether it is programmatic or not, provided they are technically and 
economically feasible. The final guidance was revised to clarify that 
non-agency alternatives may be considered. Additionally, the final 
guidance provides an entire section devoted to public involvement and 
collaboration and cooperation among Federal agencies, tribes, and state 
and local governments. CEQ's encouragement of working with other 
parties includes the development of reasonable alternatives to allow 
for informed decision-making.

Cumulative Impacts

    Several commenters raised concerns about how to effectively analyze 
cumulative effects for each resource in tiered programmatic review 
rather than only completing cumulative analysis for the program 
overall. These commenters suggest that it is difficult to evaluate 
cumulative actions when individual projects are deferred or not 
completely conceptualized.
    As specifically set out in the CEQ regulations and all CEQ 
guidance, the consideration of the potential cumulative impacts of 
proposed actions is an important and integral aspect of the NEPA 
process. CEQ has modified the final guidance to describe when 
cumulative impacts should be analyzed for potentially affected 
resources in each level of review. An agency should not solely complete 
a cumulative analysis for the broader programmatic review.

Public Involvement

    Commenters were most concerned about how programmatic NEPA review 
affects public participation and involvement. Several commenters 
expressed concern that programmatic NEPA review leads to a ``shell 
game'' when there is deferred analysis of specific impacts to 
subsequent tiers within the NEPA process. According to these 
commenters, deferred analysis may lead to poor meaningful involvement 
and an insufficient review of potential environmental impacts. One 
commenter asked for CEQ to strengthen guidance language about how to 
actively engage the public before and during an agency's programmatic 
NEPA review process. Several commenters asked CEQ to emphasize that 
agencies must communicate to the public how the programmatic NEPA 
review is being used and which issues are deferred for subsequent 
tiered NEPA reviews. These commenters noted that where an agency issues 
a programmatic NEPA review and a party is interested in challenging its 
validity, the agency often responds that the party should wait to raise 
concerns at the site-specific level because the agency will address 
these concerns at that level. They suggest that is appropriate to raise 
issues at the programmatic level where the issues affect the program as 
a whole and the issues are not present at each site-specific level, or 
where the cumulative impact of the issues is plain at the programmatic 
level but is relatively insignificant at the level of the site. Another 
commenter raised the issue that broad-level review may create public 
participation issues because it is difficult for the public to 
understand how a project affects them until the project-specific level. 
One commenter also suggested that CEQ mandate that all comment periods 
for programmatic NEPA review be extended from 45 days to 90 days.
    The final guidance makes it clear that CEQ strongly encourages 
public involvement in all programmatic and tiered NEPA reviews. As the 
final guidance explains, engaging the public in the environmental 
aspects of Federal decision-making is a key policy goal of NEPA and the 
CEQ regulations. Public involvement is not limited to the provision of 
information by agencies; it should also include meaningful 
opportunities for the public to provide comment and feedback on the 
information made available. Considering recent advances in information 
technology, agencies should consider employing additional measures to 
involve the public beyond simply publishing a Federal Register notice. 
The final guidance suggests ways to involve the public, such as 
engaging non-governmental organizations, citizen's groups, labor 
organizations, and trade associations.
    The final guidance recognizes that public engagement is 
particularly important when developing programmatic NEPA reviews in 
order to ensure agency objectives are understood and to make it clear 
how a programmatic review will influence subsequent tiered reviews. 
Effective public engagement also will help manage expectations with 
regard to the purpose and need, the scope of the broad environmental 
analyses, and the purpose and need and scope of subsequent site- and 
project-specific environmental analyses. The final guidance encourages 
outreach to potential stakeholders as early as possible to afford the 
public a meaningful opportunity to comment on and shape the 
programmatic NEPA review and/or develop alternatives to be considered. 
The guidance recognizes that members of the public are less likely to 
participate or engage in the commenting process if they do not fully 
understand how the outcomes will affect them. It is critical that 
agencies provide context and as much information as possible in the 
beginning of the public involvement process.
    The final guidance has been modified to emphasize that proactive 
and robust public participation is encouraged and, when appropriate, 
comment periods may need to be extended to ensure meaningful 
involvement. CEQ declines to mandate a maximum timeframe for comment 
periods because agencies should have the flexibility and discretion to 
determine whether the minimum timeframes provided in the CEQ 
regulations should be extended to provide time for meaningful review.
    The final guidance encourages that an agency supports early public 
participation by clearly explaining to the public not only what the 
proposed programmatic evaluation is meant to accomplish, but also how 
it relates to future actions, and why the public should get involved at 
the programmatic stage and not wait for any tiered reviews. The 
guidance makes clear that an agency should clearly state which concerns 
are addressed at that level of review and which concerns will be 
addressed in the tiered NEPA review.

Coordination With Other Environmental Reviews

    A few commenters reminded CEQ that NEPA review acts as the 
foundation for other statutory reviews such as the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). One commenter 
asked for more clarification that a consolidated NEPA

[[Page 76990]]

review generally should form the basis for reviews under all federal 
environmental laws that pertain to a given action. Another commenter 
requested revisions to include a schedule or other mechanism for 
coordinating ESA, Marine Mammal Protection Act, NHPA, and other 
interagency consultation processes so as to increase efficiency and 
create enforceable timelines. Another commenter asked for additional 
discussion about entering into programmatic agreements with other 
regulatory agencies such as the United States Fish and Wildlife 
    The final guidance recognizes that the purpose and need statement 
and the proposed action for the programmatic NEPA review are critical 
for determining the compliance requirements under other applicable laws 
and regulations, such as ESA, NHPA, and Clean Water Act. Language has 
been added to the final guidance to emphasize that an agency should 
consider the appropriate level of compliance with other laws for a 
programmatic NEPA review, for example by considering programmatic 
agreements under the ESA and NHPA, and the potential for a separate, 
more focused and specific consultation, for any subsequent tiered NEPA 

Hard Look Doctrine

    A few commenters asked for further clarification on how the ``hard 
look'' doctrine should be met for programmatic NEPA analysis. The final 
guidance explains that a programmatic NEPA review should contain 
sufficient discussion of the relevant issues and opposing viewpoints to 
enable the decisionmaker to take a ``hard look'' at the environmental 
effects and make a reasoned choice among alternatives.
    The final guidance describes the hard look doctrine in greater 
detail and an agency should include a statement in its programmatic 
NEPA review that explains rationale as to how various environmental 
effects were analyzed given the scope of the programmatic decisions 
being made.

Mitigation and Monitoring

    Several commenters voiced concerns that the final guidance does not 
adequately address mitigation and monitoring. Some commenters noted 
that agencies often fail to follow through on mitigation strategies 
throughout the programmatic NEPA process, and solely focus on 
mitigation at the broad-level review. These commenters also recommend 
that agencies be required to incorporate not only monitoring but also 
triggers and methods to update mitigation requirements depending on the 
monitoring results. Some of these commenters also requested that CEQ 
provide more direction about the necessity of mitigation monitoring and 
adaptive management in the context of environmental review.
    The CEQ regulations provide a framework for mitigating adverse 
environmental impacts. Mitigation and monitoring are key components of 
NEPA regardless of whether the NEPA process is programmatic. The final 
guidance recognizes that programmatic NEPA reviews provide an 
opportunity for agencies to incorporate comprehensive mitigation 
planning and monitoring strategies into the Federal policymaking 
process at a broad or strategic, rather than specific or site-by-site, 
level. New language has been added to include recognition that best 
management practices, adaptive management practices, and standard 
operating procedures may also be incorporated. The final guidance now 
notes that adaptive management can provide the basis for an agency to 
change the course of implementation without the need for developing 
supplemental NEPA reviews and the associated documentation.

(Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4332, 4342, 4344 and 40 CFR parts 1500, 1501, 
1502, 1503, 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508)

    Dated: December 18, 2014.
Brenda Mallory,
General Counsel, Council on Environmental Quality.
[FR Doc. 2014-30034 Filed 12-22-14; 8:45 am]