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USDA/RUS RIN: 0572-AC54 Publication ID: Fall 2020 
Title: ●Update to the Rural Development Environmental Regulation to Implement Procedural Provisions to the National Environmental Policy Act 

On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a final rule to update its regulations for Federal agencies to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The final rule comprehensively updated, modernized, and clarified the regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by Federal agencies in connection with proposals for agency action. The rule will improve interagency coordination in the environmental review process, promote earlier public involvement, increase transparency, and enhance the participation of States, Tribes, and localities. The amendments will advance the original goals of the CEQ regulations to reduce paperwork and delays, and promote better decisions consistent with the national environmental policy set forth in section 101 of NEPA.

Due to CEQ’s issuance of comprehensive updates to its NEPA regulations at 40 CFR part 1500 et. seq., (effective September 14, 2020), Rural Development is required to conform its NEPA regulations to CEQ’s updated regulations.  Sections throughout the regulation will require updating as CEQ’s regulation is the first in roughly 40 years, so updates are pervasive. Examples include updating the authorities and CEQ references throughout RD regulation to match the new CEQ references. Focus is on conforming changes to what CEQ updated, including definitions, responsible parties, actions requiring review, when to raise the level of review, timing, limits, alternatives, public involvement, extraordinary circumstances, etc. Most sections of 7 CFR 1970 will need to be updated to correspond with the new CEQ regulations. Rural Development modernized its Environmental Policies and Procedures recently and will focus revisions exclusively on bringing the regulation into compliance with the revised CEQ regulation.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Other 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 1970   
Legal Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6941 et seq.    42 U.S.C. 4241 et seq.    7 U.S.C. 1989    5 U.S.C. 301    ...   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Proposed Rule  02/00/2021 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Lauren Cusick
Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 720-1414