44 FR 52837, Sept. 11, 1979, unless otherwise noted.
The purpose of this part is to establish procedures which supplement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations and provide for the implementation of those provisions identified in § 1507.3(b) of the regulations which are applicable to the activities of the Commission in light of its statutory functions and responsibilities.
Section 1505.1 of the NEPA regulations contains requirements to ensure adequate consideration of environmental documents in agency decision-making. To implement these requirements, Commission officials shall:
(a) Consider all relevant environmental documents in evaluating proposals for agency actions;
(b) Ensure that all relevant environmental documents, comments, and responses accompany the proposal through existing agency review processes;
(c) Consider only those alternatives encompassed by the range of alternatives discussed in the relevant environmental documents when evaluating any proposal for action by the Commission which is likely to significantly affect the quality of the human environment; and
(d) Where an environmental impact statement (EIS) has been prepared, consider the specific alternatives analyzed in the EIS when evaluating the proposal which is the subject of the EIS. All Commission officials directly involved in developing, evaluating, and/or reaching decisions on proposed actions shall consider relevant environmental documents and comply with the applicable provisions of the NEPA process.
Section 1507.3(b)(2), in conjunction with § 1508.4, requires agencies to identify typical classes of action that warrant similar treatment under NEPA with respect to the preparation of EIS's or environmental assessments. As a general matter, the Commission's activities do not include actions for which EIS's or environmental assessments are required. Its activities involve:
(a) Consultation with and recommendations to other Federal agencies for actions relating to marine mammal protection and conservation for which an EIS or environmental assessment is either not required by the NEPA regulations or for which an EIS or environmental assessment is prepared by another Federal agency; and
(b) Research contracts relating to policy issues, biological-ecological data needed to make sound management decisions, and better methods for collecting and analyzing data. These activities are not, by themselves, major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and the Commission's activities are therefore categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an EIS or environmental assessment except for proposals for legislation which are initiated by the Commission, for which the Commission shall develop environmental assessments or EIS's, as appropriate, in accordance with the NEPA regulations. The Commission shall independently determine whether an EIS or an environmental assessment is required where:
(1) A proposal for agency action is not covered by one of the typical classes of action above; or
(2) For actions which are covered, the presence of extraordinary circumstances indicates that some other level of environmental review may be appropriate.
Interested persons may contact the Office of the General Counsel for information regarding the Commission's compliance with NEPA.