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USDA/FS RIN: 0596-AD31 Publication ID: Fall 2019 
Title: National Environmental Policy Act Procedures 

On June 13, 2019, the Agency proposed to reform its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (36 CFR 220) through a proposed rule,and will subsequently propose reforms to its internal NEPA directives FSM 1950 and FSH 1909.15. The proposed rule explores ways to revise the NEPA process, including aspects of the analysis framework, scoping and public engagement, and determining significance. In addition, the proposed rule will examine whether additional categorical exclusions may be appropriate. The Agency has identified reforms needed to achieve greater efficiency in its NEPA implementation, including eliminating outdated requirements, clarifying existing concepts and requirements, and incorporating new concepts. The agency now plans to issue a final rule.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Deregulatory 
CFR Citation: 36 CFR 220    40 CFR 1500   
Legal Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The Forest Service needs to update its NEPA regulations at 36 CFR 220 in order to increase efficiency in its environmental analysis while meeting NEPA’s requirements and fully honoring its environmental stewardship responsibilities.  The final rule would contribute to increasing the pace and scale of work accomplished on the ground and would help the Agency achieve its mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

This is an update to existing regulations at 36 CFR 220. The Council on Environmental Quality requires each federal agency to establish National Environmental Policy Act compliance procedures (40 CFR 1507.3).


The Forest Service has not considered alternatives. Its NEPA regulations are currently in place. Repeal is not an option because the Council on Environmental Quality’s NEPA regulations require each agency to establish NEPA procedures.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

Many benefits and costs associated with the rule are not quantifiable. The proposed rule aims to increase the efficiency of environmental analysis while remaining true to NEPA’s intent of informed decision making without weakening the Agency’s NEPA process. Benefits of the final rule would be greater clarity and efficiency in the NEPA process for Forest Service resource specialists and decision-makers.


There are no identified risks

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  01/03/2018  83 FR 302   
ANPRM Comment Period End  02/02/2018 
NPRM  06/13/2019  84 FR 27544   
NPRM Comment Period Extended  08/09/2019  84 FR 39244   
NPRM Comment Period End  08/12/2019 
NPRM Comment Period Extended End  08/26/2019 
Final Action  04/00/2020 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Federal 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses, Governmental Jurisdictions  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Michael Migliori
Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 205-2496