(a) The purpose of this section is to emphasize agency cooperation early in the NEPA process. Upon request of the lead agency, any Federal agency with jurisdiction by law shall be a cooperating agency. In addition, upon request of the lead agency, any other Federal agency with special expertise with respect to any environmental issue may be a cooperating agency. A State, Tribal, or local agency of similar qualifications may become a cooperating agency by agreement with the lead agency. An agency may request that the lead agency designate it a cooperating agency, and a Federal agency may appeal a denial of its request to the Council, in accordance with § 1501.7(e).
(b) Each cooperating agency shall:
(1) Participate in the NEPA process at the earliest practicable time.
(2) Participate in the scoping process (described in § 1501.9).
(3) On request of the lead agency, assume responsibility for developing information and preparing environmental analyses, including portions of the environmental impact statement or environmental assessment concerning which the cooperating agency has special expertise.
(4) On request of the lead agency, make available staff support to enhance the lead agency's interdisciplinary capability.
(5) Normally use its own funds. To the extent available funds permit, the lead agency shall fund those major activities or analyses it requests from cooperating agencies. Potential lead agencies shall include such funding requirements in their budget requests.
(6) Consult with the lead agency in developing the schedule (§ 1501.7(i)), meet the schedule, and elevate, as soon as practicable, to the senior agency official of the lead agency any issues relating to purpose and need, alternatives, or other issues that may affect any agencies' ability to meet the schedule.
(7) Meet the lead agency's schedule for providing comments and limit its comments to those matters for which it has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental issue consistent with § 1503.2 of this chapter.
(8) To the maximum extent practicable, jointly issue environmental documents with the lead agency.
(c) In response to a lead agency's request for assistance in preparing the environmental documents (described in paragraph (b)(3), (4), or (5) of this section), a cooperating agency may reply that other program commitments preclude any involvement or the degree of involvement requested in the action that is the subject of the environmental impact statement or environmental assessment. The cooperating agency shall submit a copy of this reply to the Council and the senior agency official of the lead agency.