NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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Antietam National Battlefield, MD3.6 Categorical Exclusions — Using the CE Lists

You should keep the following issues in mind when you are considering categorically excluding a proposal:

A. If two or more categories are required to cover elements of the proposed action, you should consider carefully whether the entire action may have the potential for environmental impact and be better analyzed in an EA or an EIS. To be excludable, the action should easily fit in one category and clearly have no potential for environmental impact.

B. If an action is described on the list, but has the potential for measurable environmental impact, you must prepare an EA or an EIS.

C. If an action is described on the list, but mitigation is required to avoid the potential for environmental impact, you should consider an EA or an EIS. Only minimal mitigation should be part of an action categorically excluded, and the effectiveness and enforcement of the mitigation must carry a high degree of certainty.

D. If a local, state, or federal agency with jurisdiction by law over an affected resource believes the potential for measurable environmental impact exists for an action that a park initially intends to categorically exclude from further analysis, you must prepare an EA or an EIS.

E. If the action involves “unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources (NEPA, sec 102 (E)),” alternatives to the proposed action must be developed and studied. If an NPS action described on the list in section 3.4 does involve such conflicts, you must prepare an EA or an EIS.

F. The definition of categorically excluded actions includes those actions that cumulatively do not have the potential for measurable impact on the human environment. If the action is a part of a broader action, or one in a series of similar or related actions, the broader policy, program, or proposal must be the subject of a NEPA analysis first. Elements of the action may subsequently be analyzed more specifically using the tiering approach.

G. If a project requires surveys or permits under other laws, in particular the National Historic Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act, it is not a categorical exclusion unless all appropriate agencies agree that a CE is appropriate.

H. If you will be taking many actions throughout the years that have very little or no potential for environmental impact and would qualify as a CE, it may be a better and more efficient approach to address them programmatically (see sections 3.9 and 7.5 of this handbook).

I. As a general rule, construction actions are not within the scope of categorical exclusions. However, maintenance activities may be included if listed in section 3.4. Generally, these are maintenance activities that are designed to preserve the integrity of an existing structure or facility. Maintenance activities do not include additions to structures or facilities, or changes in location or capacity.

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