TITLE 40--PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT CHAPTER V--COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY NEPA REGULATIONS
PART 1503 - COMMENTING
1503.1 Inviting comments.
(a) After preparing a draft environmental impact statement and before preparing a final environmental impact statement the agency shall:
(1) Obtain the comments of any Federal agency which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved or which is authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards.
(2) Request the comments of:
(i) Appropriate State and local agencies which are authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards;
(ii) Indian tribes, when the effects may be on a reservation; and
(iii) Any agency which has requested that it receive statements on actions of the kind proposed.
Office of Management and Budget Circular A-95 (Revised), through its system of clearinghouses, provides a means of securing the views of State and local environmental agencies. The clearinghouses may be used, by mutual agreement of the lead agency and the clearinghouse, for securing State and local reviews of the draft environmental impact statements.
(3) Request comments from the applicant, if any.
(4) Request comments from the public, affirmatively soliciting comments from those persons or organizations who may be interested or affected.
(b) An agency may request comments on a final environmental impact statement before the decision is finally made. In any case other agencies or persons may make comments before the final decision unless a different time is provided under §1506.10.
1503.2 Duty to comment.
Federal agencies with jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved and agencies which are authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards shall comment on statements within their jurisdiction, expertise, or authority. Agencies shall comment within the time period specified for comment in §1506.10. A Federal agency may reply that it has no comment. If a cooperating agency is satisfied that its views are adequately reflected in the environmental impact statement, it should reply that it has no comment.
1503.3 Specificity of comments.
(a) Comments on an environmental impact statement or on a proposed action shall be as specific as possible and may address either the adequacy of the statement or the merits of the alternatives discussed or both.
(b) When a commenting agency criticizes a lead agency's predictive methodology, the commenting agency should describe the alternative methodology which it prefers and why.
(c) A cooperating agency shall specify in its comments whether it needs additional information to fulfill other applicable environmental reviews or consultation requirements and what information it needs. In particular, it shall specify any additional information it needs to comment adequately on the draft statement's analysis of significant site-specific effects associated with the granting or approving by that cooperating agency of necessary Federal permits, licenses, or entitlements.
(d) When a cooperating agency with jurisdiction by law objects to or expresses reservations about the proposal on grounds of environmental impacts, the agency expressing the objection or reservation shall specify the mitigation measures it considers necessary to allow the agency to grant or approve applicable permit, license, or related requirements or concurrences.
1503.4 Response to comments.
(a) An agency preparing a final environmental impact statement shall assess and consider comments both individually and collectively, and shall respond by one or more of the means listed below, stating its response in the final statement. Possible responses are to:
(1) Modify alternatives including the proposed action.
(2) Develop and evaluate alternatives not previously given serious consideration by the agency.
(3) Supplement, improve, or modify its analyses.
(4) Make factual corrections.
(5) Explain why the comments do not warrant further agency response, citing the sources, authorities, or reasons which support the agency's position and, if appropriate, indicate those circumstances which would trigger agency reappraisal or further response.
(b) All substantive comments received on the draft statement (or summaries thereof where the response has been exceptionally voluminous), should be attached to the final statement whether or not the comment is thought to merit individual discussion by the agency in the text of the statement.
(c) If changes in response to comments are minor and are confined to the responses described in paragraphs (a)(4) and (5) of this section, agencies may write them on errata sheets and attach them to the statement instead of rewriting the draft statement. In such cases only the comments, the responses, and the changes and not the final statement need be circulated (§1502.19). The entire document with a new cover sheet shall be filed as the final statement (§1506.9).