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The Arizona Department of Transportation, as part of a process to streamline environmental reviews for certain projects while fulfilling all federal requirements, has initiated the process to assume environmental authority and review responsibility required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 for many federally funded highway projects statewide.

A draft Memorandum of Understanding between ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration, under which the Federal Highway Administration would assign its environmental review authority and responsibility to ADOT, is now available for review and comment.

The public comment period runs through Nov. 24, 2017.

The proposed Memorandum of Understanding addresses projects found not to have significant environmental impacts, commonly referred to as Categorical Exclusions. Under NEPA assignment, the state assumes the process, decision-making and legal responsibility for the National Environmental Policy Act requirements that the Federal Highway Administration carries out during project review and delivery. Learn more on ADOT’s Environmental Planning web page.

Alaska, California, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas and Utah have taken or are pursuing similar action, as it may enable states to save money and time when delivering transportation projects. The federal government recognizes that states can achieve environmental compliance while streamlining certain review processes and without federal oversight at the project level.

ADOT is also developing a similar Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Highway Administration for highway projects that require either an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. That agreement is expected to be in place in 2018.

Formal notice in the Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2017-23011.

Review the proposed Memorandum of Understanding: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FHWA-2017-0044-0001.

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