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ORF Home > Environmental Protection > NEPA Review > 30-50-80 -- Reviewing External Environmental Impact Statements

30-50-80 -- Reviewing External Environmental Impact Statements

HHS has a responsibility under Section 102(2)C of NEPA to review and comment on draft ElSs developed by other Federal agencies. In accordance with 40 CFR ' 1503.2, HHS must comment on each EIS on issues for which it has "jurisdiction by law or special expertise."

  1. Jurisdiction by Law. An OPDIV/STAFFDIV reviewing a draft EIS should review each alternative action discussed in an EIS in terms of the Departments statutory responsibilities. For example, the reviewer should examine:

    1. Potential effects on the delivery or quality of health, social, or welfare services;

    2. Potential effects associated with the manufacture, transportation, use, storage, and disposal of chemicals or other hazardous or radioactive materials;

    3. Potential changes in plant or animal populations (This includes examination of the potential effects the proposed action may have on human health. Changes in natural predator populations may upset the ecological balance to the extent that an increased incidence of morbidity or mortality will occur unless offsetting safeguards are instituted); and

    4. Potential changes in the physical environment that could affect human health or welfare (e.g., air pollution, change in land use). (This shall also include an examination of the availability and quality of water, sewage, and solid waste disposal facilities.)

  2. Jurisdiction by Special Expertise. Individuals reviewing EISs may comment, in addition, in areas beyond their immediate job responsibilities when they have special expertise which may be appropriate. For example, a veterinarian employed in a disease prevention program can comment on an EIS discussion about the effects of a forestry project on animal populations.

  3. Types of Comments. Comments on an EIS or on a proposed action shall be as specific as possible and may address either the adequacy of the statement or the merits of the alternatives discussed or both. A reviewer's comment on an external EIS can address one or more of the following:

    1. That data are missing or inaccurate;

    2. That the organization of the EIS precludes a valid review;

    3. That the projections or descriptions of effects are not complete or are inaccurate;

    4. That the reviewer does not concur with the projections (stating reasons);

    5. That certain safeguards will lessen the extent of an effect or the magnitude of an impact;

    6. A preference for an action alternative (or no action); or

    7. An objection to a federal agency's preferred alternative (if one is identified in the draft EIS) and recommend adoption of new or existing alternatives.

    Objections to a federal agency's alternative should be lodged on the basis of the direct or indirect effects on HHS programs or mission. When an objection or reservation about the proposal is made on grounds of environmental impacts, an OPDIV/ STAFFDIV shall specify the mitigation measures it considers necessary to allow it to grant or approve applicable permit, license, or related requirements or concurrences (40 CFR 1503.3).

    If a lead federal agency's predictive methodology is criticized, the OPDIV/STAFFDIV should describe the alternative methodology which it prefers and the rationale for its preference. An OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall specify in its comments whether it needs additional information to fulfill other applicable environmental reviews or consultation requirements and what information it needs. In particular, an OPDIV/STAFFDIV shall specify any additional information it needs to comment adequately on the draft statements analysis of significant site-specific effects associated with the granting or approving of necessary Federal permits, licenses, or entitlements.

  4. Resolution of Comments. If an OPDIV/STAFFDIV objects to all or part of a Federal agency's proposed action and, after consultation with the agency, is unable to resolve its differences, it shall determine if the proposed action meets the criteria for referral in 40 CFR ' 1504.2. If the criteria are met, the OPDIV/STAFFDIV head shall refer the objection to CEQ within 25 days of the date that the final EIS is made available to EPA in accordance with 40 CFR '1504.3.

Last Revised: October 17, 2003




This page was last updated on May 23, 2013