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USDA Launches National Environmental Policy Act Pilot Project

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Contact:
R. Andre Bell (301) 734-3853
Andrea McNally (301) 734-0602

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking participation in a two-year, voluntary project to assess the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process used to inform its decisions associated with the regulation of genetically engineered organisms.

The goal of APHIS' NEPA pilot project is to test new approaches to developing environmental documents to determine the extent to which these approaches improve the quality, timeliness and cost of the process. The project is part of a larger effort to improve the petition evaluation process. It is one of the strategies identified in USDA's High Priority Performance Goal for biotechnology regulation.

“NEPA compliance is an important Agency responsibility, and the pilot project is designed and intended to assist APHIS in developing more effective methods for the NEPA process,” said Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS' biotechnology regulatory services.

The pilot will explore ways to enhance APHIS' NEPA compliance by evaluating the feasibility of using environmental documents prepared outside of APHIS to help meet NEPA requirements. The pilot will focus on petitions for non-regulated status and will not focus on permits or notifications.

Notice of this action is published in today's April 7 Federal Register.

Letters of interest may be submitted through April 8, 2013. Contact David Reinhold, assistant director, environmental risk analysis programs, USDA, APHIS, BRS, 4700 River Road, Unit 146, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238; (301) 734-0660; e-mail: david.reinhold@aphis.usda.gov.

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Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link.

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