Final Guidance Clarifying Appropriateness of "Findings of No Significant Impact" and Specifying When There is a Need to Monitor Environmental Mitigation Commitments
Many Federal actions receive an environmental review, known as an Environmental Assessment. In those instances, NEPA compliance is usually completed with a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI) on the environment, thus a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement is not required. The guidance clarifies that the environmental impacts of a proposed action may be mitigated to the point when the agency may make a FONSI determination. When the FONSI depends on successful mitigation, however, such mitigation requirements should be made public and be accompanied by monitoring and reporting.
The guidance emphasizes that when agencies base their environmental analysis on a commitment to mitigate the environmental impacts of a proposed action, they should adhere to those commitments, monitor how they are implemented, and monitor the effectiveness of the mitigation.
Specifically, the guidance affirms that agencies should:
- commit to mitigation in decision documents when they have based environmental analysis upon such mitigation (by including appropriate conditions on grants, permits, or other agency approvals, and making funding or approvals for implementing the proposed action contingent on implementation of the mitigation commitments);
- monitor the implementation and effectiveness of mitigation commitments;
- make information on mitigation monitoring available to the public, preferably through agency web sites; and
- remedy ineffective mitigation when the Federal action is not yet complete.