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Title 7Subtitle BChapter XVIIISubchapter HPart 1980Subpart E → Appendix

Title 7: Agriculture
Subpart E—Business and Industrial Loan Program

Appendix E to Subpart E of Part 1980—Environmental Assessment Guidelines

In completing an assessment, it is important to understand the comprehensive nature of the impacts which must be analyzed. Consideration must be given to all potential impacts associated with the construction of the project and its operation and maintenance. The attainment of the project's major objectives often induces or supports changes in population densities, land uses, community services, transportation systems and resource consumption. The impacts of these activities must also be assessed.

The environmental reviewer should consult with appropriate experts from Federal, State and local agencies, universities and other organizations or groups whose views could be helpful in the assessment of potential impacts. In so doing, each discussion which is utilized in reaching a conclusion with respect to the degree of an impact should be summarized in the assessment as accurately as possible and include name, title, phone number, and organization of the individual contacted, plus the date of contact. Related correspondence should be attached to the assessment.

The Farmers Home Administration or its successor agency under Public Law 103-354 assessment should be prepared in the following format; it should address the listed items and questions and contain as attachments the indicated descriptive materials, as well as the environmental information submitted by the applicant.

These assessment guidelines have been designed to cover the wide variety of impacts which may be encountered. Consequently, not every issue or potential impact raised in these guildlines may be relevant to each project. The purpose of the format is to give the preparer an understanding of a standard range of impacts, environmental factors and issues which may be encountered. In preparing an assessment, each topic heading identified by a roman numeral and each environmental factor listed under topic heading IV, such as air quality for example, must be addressed.

The amount of analysis and material that must be provided will depend upon the type and size of the project, the environment in which it is located and the range and complexity of the potential impacts. The amount of analysis and detail provided, therefore, must be commensurate with the magnitude of the expected impact. The analysis of each environmental factor (i.e., water quality) must be taken to the point that a conclusion can be reached and supported concerning the degree of the expected impact with respect to that factor.

(I) Project description and need. Identify the name, project number, location, and specific elements of the project along with their sizes, and, when applicable, their design capacities. Indicate the purpose of the project, Rural Development's position regarding the need for it, and the extent or area of land to be considered as the project site.

(II) Primary beneficiaries and related activities. Identify any existing businesses or major developments that will benefit from the project and those which will expand or locate in the area because of the project. Specify by name, product, service, and operations involved.

Identify any related activities which are defined as interdependent parts of an Rural Development action. Such undertakings are considered interdependent parts whenever they either make possible or support the Rural Development action or are themselves induced or supported by the Rural Development action or another related activity. These activities may have been completed in the very recent past and are now operational or they may reasonably be expected to be accomplished in the near future. Related activities may or may not be Federally permitted or assisted. When they are, identify the involved Federal agency(s).

In completing the remainder of the assessment, it must be remembered that the impacts to be addressed are those which stem from the project, the primary beneficiaries, and the related activities.

(III) Description of project area. Describe the project site and its present use. Describe the surrounding land uses; indicate the directions and distances involved. The extent of the surrounding land to be considered depends on the extent of the impacts of the project, its related activities, and the primary beneficiaries. Unique or sensitive areas must be pointed out. These include residential, schools, hospitals, recreational, historical sites, beaches, lakes, rivers, parks, floodplains, wetlands, dunes, estuaries, barrier islands, natural landmarks, unstable soils, steep slopes, aquifer recharge areas, important farmlands and forestlands, prime rangelands, endangered species habitats, or other delicate or rare ecosystems.

Attach adequate location maps of the project area, as well as (1) a U.S. Geological Survey “15 minute” (“712 minute” if available) topographic map which clearly delineates the area and the location of the project elements, (2) the Department of Housing and Urban Development's floodplain map(s) for the project area, (3) site photos, (4) if completed, a standard soil survey for the project and, (5) if available, an aerial photograph of the site. When necessary for descriptive purposes or environmental analysis, include land use maps or other graphic information. All graphic materials shall be of high quality resolution.

(IV) Environmental impact. (1) Air Quality—Discuss, in terms of the amounts and types of emissions to be produced, all aspects of the project including beneficiaries' operations and known indirect effects (such as increased motor vehicle traffic) which will affect air quality. Indicate the existing air quality in the area. Indicate if topographical or meteorological conditions hinder or affect the dispersals of air emissions. Evaluate the impact on air quality given the types and amounts of projected emissions, the existing air quality and topographical and meteorological conditions. Discuss the project's consistency with the State's air quality implementation plan for the area, the classification of the air quality control region within which the project is located, and the status of compliance with air quality standards within that region. Cite any contacts with appropriate experts and agencies which must issue necessary permits.

(2) Water Quality—Discuss, in terms of amounts and types of effluents all aspects of the project, including primary beneficiaries' operations and known indirect effects which will affect water quality. Indicate the existing water quality of surface and/or underground water to be affected. Evaluate the impacts of the project on this existing water quality. Indicate if an aquifer recharge area is to be adversely affected. If the project lies within or will affect a sole source aquifer recharge area as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contact the appropriate EPA regional office to determine if its review is necessary. If it is, attach the results of its review.

Indicate the source and available supply of raw water and the extent to which the additional demand will affect the raw water supply. Describe the wastewater treatment system(s) to be used and indicate their capacity and their adequacy in terms of the degree of treatment provided. Discuss the characteristics and uses of the receiving waters for any sources of discharge. If the treatment systems are or will be inadequate or overloaded, describe the steps being taken for necessary improvements and their completion dates. Compare such dates to the completion date of the Rural Development project. Analyze the impacts on the receiving water during any estimated period of inadequate treatment.

Discuss the project's consistency with the water quality planning for the area, such as EPA's Section 208 areawide waste treatment management plan. Describe how surface runoff is to be handled and the effect of erosion on streams.

Evaluate the extent to which the project may create shortages for or otherwise adversely affect the withdrawal capabilities of other present users of the raw water supply, particularly in terms of possible human health, safety, or welfare problems.

For projects utilizing a groundwater supply, evaluate the potential for the project to exceed the safe pumping rate for the aquifer to the extent that it would (1) adversely affect the pumping capability of present users, (2) increase the likelihood of brackish or saltwater intrusion, thereby decreasing water quality, or (3) substantially increase surface subsidence risks.

For projects utilizing a surface water supply, evaluate the potential for the project to (1) reduce flows below the minimum required for the protection of fish and wildlife or (2) reduce water quality standards below those established for the stream classification at the point of withdrawal or the adjacent downstream section.

Cite contacts with appropriate experts and agencies that must issue necessary permits.

(3) Solid Waste Management—Indicate all aspects of the project, including primary beneficiaries' operations, and known indirect effects which will necessitate the disposal of solid wastes. Indicate the kinds and expected quantities of solid wastes involved and the disposal techniques to be used. Evaluate the adequacy to these techniques especially in relationship to air and water quality. Indicate if recycling or resource recovery programs are or will be used. Cite any contacts with appropriate experts and agencies that must issue necessary permits.

(4) Land Use—Given the description of land uses as previously indicated, evaluate (a) the effect of changing the land use of the project site and (b) how this change in land use will affect the surrounding land uses and those within the project's area of environmental impact. Particularly address the potential impacts to the unique or sensitive areas discussed under Section III, Description of Project Area. Also address any changes in land use which may result from demand for feedstock for the plant's operation. Describe the existing land use plan and zoning restrictions for the project area. Evaluate the consistency of the project and its impacts with these plans.

(5) Transportation—Describe available facilities such as highways and rail. Discuss whether the project will result in an increase in motor vehicle traffic and the existing roads' ability to safely accommodate this increase. Indicate if additional traffic control devices are to be installed. Describe new traffic patterns which will arise because of the project. Discuss how these new traffic patterns will affect the land uses described above, especially residential, hospitals, schools, and recreational. Describe the consistency of the project's transportation impacts with the transportation plans for the area and any air quality control plans. Cite any contact with appropriate experts.

(6) Natural Environment—Indicate all aspects of the project, including construction, beneficiaries' operations, and known indirect effects which will affect the natural environment including wildlife, their habitats, and unique natural features. Cite contacts with appropriate experts. If an area listed on the National Registry of Natural Landmarks may be affected, consult with the Department of Interior and document these consultations and any agreements reached regarding avoidance or mitigation of potential adverse impacts.

(7) Human Population—Indicate the number of people to be relocated and arrangements being made for this relocation. Discuss how impacts resulting from the project such as changes in land use, transportation changes, air emissions, noise, odor, etc., will effect nearby residents and their lifestyles or users of the project area and surrounding areas. Cite contacts with appropriate experts.

(8) Construction—Indicate the potential effects of construction of the project on air quality, water quality noise levels, solid waste disposal, soil erosion and siltation. Describe the measures that will be employed to limit adverse effects. Give particular consideration to erosion, stream siltation, and clearing operations.

(9) Energy Impacts—Indicate the project's and its primary beneficiaries' effects on the area's existing energy supplies. This discussion should address not only the direct energy utilization, but any major indirect utilization resulting from the siting of the project. Describe the availability of these supplies to the project site. Discuss whether the project will utilize a large share of the remaining capacity of an energy supply or will create a shortage of such supply. Discuss any steps to be taken to conserve energy.

(10) Discuss any of the following areas which may be relevant: noise, vibrations, safety, seismic conditions, fire prone locations, radiation, and aesthetic considerations. Cite any discussions with appropriate experts.

(V) Coastal Zone Management Act. Indicate if the project is within or will impact a coastal area defined as such by the state's approved Coastal Zone Management Program. If so, consult with the State agency responsible for the Program to determine the project's consistency with it. The results of this coordination shall be included in the assessment and considered in completing the environmental impact determination and environmental findings,

(VI) Compliance with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations. In this section, the environmental reviewer shall detail the steps taken to comply with the above regulations as specified in Subpart F of Part 1901 of this Chapter. First, indicate that the National Register of Historic Places, including its monthly supplements, has been reviewed and whether there are any listed properties located within the area to be affected by the project. Second, indicate the steps taken such as historical/archeological surveys to determine if there are any properties eligible for listing located within the affected area. Summarize the results of the consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and attach appropriate documentation of the SHPO's views. Discuss the views of any other experts contacted. Based upon the above review process and the views of the SHPO, state whether or not an eligible or listed property will be affected.

If there will be an effect, discuss all of the steps and protective measures taken to complete the Advisory Council's regulations. Describe the affected property and the nature of the effect. Attach to the asessment the results of the coordination process with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

(VII) Compliance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Indicate whether the project will affect a river or portion of it which is either included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System or designated for potential addition to the System. This analysis shall be conducted through discussions with the appropriate regional office of the National Park Service or the Forest Service when its lands are involved, as well as the appropriate State agencies having implementation authorities. A summary of discussions held or any required formal coordination shall be included in the assessment.

(VIII) Compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Indicate whether the project will either (1) affect a listed endangered or threatened species or critical habitat or (2) adversely affect a proposed critical habitat for an endangered or threatened species or jeopardize the continued existence of a proposed endangered or threatened species. This analysis shall be conducted in consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, when appropriate.

The results of any required coordination shall be included in the assessment along with any completed biological opinion and mitigation measures to be required for the project. These factors shall be considered in completing the environmental impact determination.

(IX) Compliance with Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands. Indicate whether the project is either located within a 100-year floodplain (500-year floodplain for a critical action) or a wetland or will impact a floodplain or wetland. If so, determine if there is a practicable alternative project or location. If there is no such alternative, determine whether all practicable mitigation measures are included in the project and document as an attachment these determinations and the steps taken to inform the public, locate alternatives, and mitigate potential adverse impacts. See the U.S. Water Resource Council's Floodplain Management Guidelines for more specific guidance.

(X) State Environmental Policy Act. Indicate if the proposed project is subject to a State environmental policy act or similar regulation. Summarize the results of compliance with these requirements and attach available documentation.

(XI) Consultation requirements. Attach the comments of any State or local agency received through the implementation of Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.

(XII) Environmental analysis of participating Federal agency. Indicate if another federal agency is participating in the project either through the provision of additional funds, a companion project, or a permit review authority. Summarize the results of the involved agency's environmental impact analysis and attach available documentation.

(XIII) Reaction to project. Discuss any negative comments or public views raised about the project and the consideration given to these comments. Indicate whether a public hearing or public information meeting has been held either by the applicant or Rural Development to include a summary of the results and any objections raised. Indicate any other examples of the community's awareness of the project, such as newspaper articles or public notifications.

(XIV) Cumulative impacts. Summarize the cumulative impacts of this project and the related activities. Give particular attention to land use changes and air and water quality impacts. Summarize the results of the environmental impact analysis done for any of these related activities and/or your discussion with the sponsoring agencies. Attach available documentation of the analysis.

(XV) Adverse impact. Summarize the potential adverse impacts of the proposal as pointed out in the above analysis.

(XVI) Alternatives. Discuss the feasibility of alternatives to the project and their environmental impacts. These alternatives should include (a) alternative location, (b) alternative designs, (c) alternative projects having similar benefits, and (d) no project.

(XVII) Mitigation measures. Describe any measures which will be taken or required by Rural Development to avoid or mitigate the identified adverse impacts. Such measures shall be included as special requirements or provisions to the offer of financial assistance.

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