Key Definitions

A key feature of the CEQ regulations is the concept of three levels of analysis; Level 1 relates to a categorical exclusion determination, Level 2 to the preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact, and Level 3 to the preparation of an EIS (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1989). Figure 2.1.1 depicts the interrelationships between these three levels. Key definitions from the CEQ regulations related to Figure 2.1.1 include federal action, categorical exclusion, EA, finding of no significant impact, significant impact, and EIS.

Federal actions include the adoption of official policy (rules, regulations, legislation, and treaties) which result in or alter agency programs; adoption of formal plans; adoption of programs; and approval of specific projects, such as construction or management activities located in a defined geographic area, and actions approved by permit or other regulatory decision as well as federal and federally assisted activities. The EIA process is typically applied to proposed projects. Key information needed in applying the EIA process to a proposed project includes items such as:

1. A description of the type of project and how it functions or operates in a technical context

FEDERAL ACTION (1508.18)

CATEGORICAL EXCLUSION (1508.4)

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