FRA & NEPA
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires Federal agencies to account for the environmental impacts of Federal-government actions. NEPA established a national environmental policy and provides a framework for environmental planning and decision-making by Federal agencies. NEPA directs Federal agencies, when planning projects or issuing permits, to consider the potential impacts on the environment by their proposed actions. NEPA requires, to the fullest extent possible, that the policies, regulations, and laws of the Federal government be interpreted and administered in accordance with NEPA’s environmental protection goals. Federal implementation of NEPA is the charge of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which interpreted the law and addressed NEPA’s action forcing provisions in the form of regulations and guidance.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is committed to the examination and avoidance of potential impacts to the social and natural environment when considering approval of proposed transportation projects. FRA begins the process of considering the environmental impacts of a proposed project in consultation with appropriate federal, state, and local authorities as well as with the public at the earliest practical time in the project planning process.
As of November 28, 2018, FRA conducts environmental reviews according to the revised NEPA legislation and regulations contained in 23 CFR Part 771 Environmental Impact and Related Procedures, and 23 CFR Part 774, Parks, Recreation Areas, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites (Section 4(f)) for transportation projects.
For environmental reviews started prior to November 28, 2018, FRA will complete those reviews in accordance with FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 Federal Register [FR] 28545, May 26, 1999) and revised in 2013 where seven new categorical exclusions (CE)s were added.
FRA Environmental Reviews
FRA’s environmental staff are responsible for managing the environmental review process for projects that receive financial assistance from FRA. This process includes ensuring compliance with NEPA and other relevant federal environmental laws, reviewing and approving environmental documents, and issuing decision documents. The following tables implement requirements in Section 11503 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST Act).
- Pre 23 CFR 771 CEs
- 23 CFR 771 CEs
- Table Acronyms
- Fast Act 49 USC Section 24201 (d)
- FRA Funding Programs
- FRA Discretionary Grant Programs
For More Information on a Specific CE
CE documentation is available upon request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Submit a FOIA request. All FOIA requests are processed in the Office of Chief Counsel at FRA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. For questions, email: FRAFOIA@dot.gov
Permitting Dashboard for Federal Infrastructure Projects
The Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project developers, and the public to track the Federal government’s permitting and review process for large and complex infrastructure projects. The primary objectives of the Dashboard are to increase transparency and to shorten review timelines while improving environmental and community outcomes. The Dashboard achieves these objectives by encouraging early coordination and synchronization of agency review schedules and making public information easily accessible. FRA enters project schedules and milestones into the Dashboard for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Environmental Assessments (EA) started after October 2015 and the enactment of the FAST Act, or by request.