(a) Scoping is a process that continues throughout the planning and early stages of preparation of an environmental impact statement. Scoping is required for an environmental impact statement; scoping may be helpful during preparation of an environmental assessment, but is not required (see paragraph 46.305(a) Public involvement in the environmental assessment process). For an environmental impact statement, bureaus must use scoping to engage State, local and tribal governments and the public in the early identification of concerns, potential impacts, relevant effects of past actions and possible alternative actions. Scoping is an opportunity to introduce and explain the interdisciplinary approach and solicit information as to additional disciplines that should be included. Scoping also provides an opportunity to bring agencies and applicants together to lay the groundwork for setting time limits, expediting reviews where possible, integrating other environmental reviews, and identifying any major obstacles that could delay the process. The Responsible Official shall determine whether, in some cases, the invitation requirement in 40 CFR 1501.7(a)(1) may be satisfied by including such an invitation in the notice of intent (NOI).
(b) In scoping meetings, newsletters, or by other communication methods appropriate to scoping, the lead agency must make it clear that the lead agency is ultimately responsible for determining the scope of an environmental impact statement and that suggestions obtained during scoping are only options for the bureau to consider.