(a) General principles -
(1) Early coordination. Federal agencies are encouraged to coordinate compliance with section 106 and the procedures in this part with any steps taken to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Agencies should consider their section 106 responsibilities as early as possible in the NEPA process, and plan their public participation, analysis, and review in such a way that they can meet the purposes and requirements of both statutes in a timely and efficient manner. The determination of whether an undertaking is a “major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” and therefore requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA, should include consideration of the undertaking's likely effects on historic properties. A finding of adverse effect on a historic property does not necessarily require an EIS under NEPA.
(2) Consulting party roles. SHPO/THPOs, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations, other consulting parties, and organizations and individuals who may be concerned with the possible effects of an agency action on historic properties should be prepared to consult with agencies early in the NEPA process, when the purpose of and need for the proposed action as well as the widest possible range of alternatives are under consideration.
(3) Inclusion of historic preservation issues. Agency officials should ensure that preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or an EIS and record of decision (ROD) includes appropriate scoping, identification of historic properties, assessment of effects upon them, and consultation leading to resolution of any adverse effects.
(b) Actions categorically excluded under NEPA. If a project, activity or program is categorically excluded from NEPA review under an agency's NEPA procedures, the agency official shall determine if it still qualifies as an undertaking requiring review under section 106 pursuant to § 800.3(a). If so, the agency official shall proceed with section 106 review in accordance with the procedures in this subpart.
(c) Use of the NEPA process for section 106 purposes. An agency official may use the process and documentation required for the preparation of an EA/FONSI or an EIS/ROD to comply with section 106 in lieu of the procedures set forth in §§ 800.3 through 800.6 if the agency official has notified in advance the SHPO/THPO and the Council that it intends to do so and the following standards are met.
(1) Standards for developing environmental documents to comply with Section 106. During preparation of the EA or draft EIS (DEIS) the agency official shall:
(ii) Identify historic properties and assess the effects of the undertaking on such properties in a manner consistent with the standards and criteria of §§ 800.4 through 800.5, provided that the scope and timing of these steps may be phased to reflect the agency official's consideration of project alternatives in the NEPA process and the effort is commensurate with the assessment of other environmental factors;
(iii) Consult regarding the effects of the undertaking on historic properties with the SHPO/THPO, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations that might attach religious and cultural significance to affected historic properties, other consulting parties, and the Council, where appropriate, during NEPA scoping, environmental analysis, and the preparation of NEPA documents;
(iv) Involve the public in accordance with the agency's published NEPA procedures; and
(v) Develop in consultation with identified consulting parties alternatives and proposed measures that might avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects of the undertaking on historic properties and describe them in the EA or DEIS.
(2) Review of environmental documents.
(i) The agency official shall submit the EA, DEIS, or EIS to the SHPO/THPO, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations that might attach religious and cultural significance to affected historic properties, and other consulting parties prior to or when making the document available for public comment. If the document being prepared is a DEIS or EIS, the agency official shall also submit it to the Council.
(ii) Prior to or within the time allowed for public comment on the document, a SHPO/THPO, an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, another consulting party or the Council may object to the agency official that preparation of the EA, DEIS, or EIS has not met the standards set forth in paragraph (c)(1) of this section or that the substantive resolution of the effects on historic properties proposed in an EA, DEIS, or EIS is inadequate. If the agency official receives such an objection, the agency official shall refer the matter to the Council.
(3) Resolution of objections. Within 30 days of the agency official's referral of an objection under paragraph (c)(2)(ii) of this section, the Council shall review the objection and notify the agency as to its opinion on the objection.
(i) If the Council agrees with the objection:
(A) The Council shall provide the agency official and, if the Council determines the issue warrants it, the head of the agency with the Council's opinion regarding the objection. A Council decision to provide its opinion to the head of an agency shall be guided by the criteria in appendix A to this part. The person to whom the Council addresses its opinion (the agency official or the head of the agency) shall take into account the Council's opinion in reaching a final decision on the issue of the objection.
(B) The person to whom the Council addresses its opinion (the agency official or the head of the agency) shall prepare a summary of the decision that contains the rationale for the decision and evidence of consideration of the Council's opinion, and provide it to the Council. The head of the agency may delegate his or her duties under this paragraph to the agency's senior Policy Official. If the agency official's initial decision regarding the matter that is the subject of the objection will be revised, the agency official shall proceed in accordance with the revised decision. If the final decision of the agency is to affirm the initial agency decision, once the summary of the final decision has been sent to the Council, the agency official shall continue its compliance with this section.
(ii) If the Council disagrees with the objection, the Council shall so notify the agency official, in which case the agency official shall continue its compliance with this section.
(iii) If the Council fails to respond to the objection within the 30 day period, the agency official shall continue its compliance with this section.
(4) Approval of the undertaking. If the agency official has found, during the preparation of an EA or EIS that the effects of an undertaking on historic properties are adverse, the agency official shall develop measures in the EA, DEIS, or EIS to avoid, minimize, or mitigate such effects in accordance with paragraph (c)(1)(v) of this section. The agency official's responsibilities under section 106 and the procedures in this subpart shall then be satisfied when either:
(i) A binding commitment to such proposed measures is incorporated in:
(A) The ROD, if such measures were proposed in a DEIS or EIS; or
(B) An MOA drafted in compliance with § 800.6(c); or
(ii) The Council has commented under § 800.7 and received the agency's response to such comments.
(5) Modification of the undertaking. If the undertaking is modified after approval of the FONSI or the ROD in a manner that changes the undertaking or alters its effects on historic properties, or if the agency official fails to ensure that the measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects (as specified in either the FONSI or the ROD, or in the binding commitment adopted pursuant to paragraph (c)(4) of this section) are carried out, the agency official shall notify the Council and all consulting parties that supplemental environmental documents will be prepared in compliance with NEPA or that the procedures in §§ 800.3 through 800.6 will be followed as necessary.