[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 104 (Tuesday, May 31, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 34271-34274]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12577]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 771

Federal Transit Administration

49 CFR Part 622

[Docket No. FHWA-2016-0008]
RIN 2125-AF69; 2132-AB29


Categorical Exclusions

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit 
Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule amends FHWA and FTA categorical exclusions 
(CE) for projects receiving limited Federal assistance to reflect a 
requirement in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act 
to index for inflation the monetary thresholds for these CEs. This 
final rule also implements a provision in the FAST Act that directs 
FHWA to amend its rules on programmatic agreements for CEs. The 
amendments contained in this rule reflect statutory language in the 
FAST Act.

DATES:  Effective on June 30, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For the Federal Highway 
Administration: Owen Lindauer, Ph.D., Office of Project Delivery and 
Environmental Review, HEPE, (202) 366-2655, Owen.Lindauer@dot.gov, or 
Jennifer Mayo, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1523, 
Jennifer.Mayo@dot.gov. For FTA: Megan Blum, Office of Planning and 
Environment, (202) 366-0463, Megan.Blum@dot.gov, or Nancy-Ellen Zusman, 
Office of Chief Counsel, (312) 353-2577, NancyEllen.Zusman@dot.gov. The 
FHWA and FTA are both located at 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, 
DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.T., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access and Filing

    This document may be viewed online through the Federal eRulemaking 
portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Retrieval help and guidelines are 
available on the Web site. It is available 24 hours each day, 365 days 
a year. An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded from 
the Office of the Federal Register home page at: http://www.ofr.gov and 
the Government Printing Office Web page at: http://www.gpo.gov.

Background

    On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the FAST Act, 
Public Law 114-94, 129 Stat. 1312, which contains new requirements that 
FHWA and FTA (hereafter referred to as ``the Agencies'') must meet in 
complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.). Section 1314(a) of the FAST Act amends section 1317 of 
the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Public 
Law 112-141, 126 Stat. 405, by inserting ``(as adjusted annually by the 
Secretary to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index prepared 
by the Department of Labor)'' after ``$5,000,000'' in paragraph (1)(A) 
and after ``$30,000,000'' in paragraph (1)(B) of the CE for projects 
receiving limited Federal financial assistance. The Agencies relied on 
the authority in MAP-21, section 1317 to establish limited Federal 
financial assistance CEs for FHWA at 23 CFR 771.117(c)(23) and for FTA 
at 23 CFR 771.118(c)(13). Those CEs were published in a final rule in 
the Federal Register on January 13, 2014 (79 FR 2107). With this final 
rule, the Agencies are amending the limited Federal financial 
assistance CEs to incorporate the adjustment for inflation requirement 
created by the FAST Act.
    The Agencies included a reference to their respective Web sites 
(www.fhwa.dot.gov and www.fta.dot.gov) in the CE language in order to 
provide a source for locating the consumer price index (CPI), as 
adjusted annually. Per the FAST Act, section 1314(b), the first 
adjustment made pursuant to section 1314(a) must reflect the increase 
in the CPI since July 1, 2012. The Agencies divided the November 2015 
CPI figure (237.336)--the latest data from the Department of Labor--by 
the July 2012 CPI figure (229.104), and multiplied the product (1.0359) 
by $5,000,000. The resulting value is $5,179,656.40, which is the $5 
million limit found in sections 771.117(c)(23)(i) and 771.118(c)(13)(i) 
after adjusting for inflation, and should be considered when applying 
the limited Federal financial assistance CE to projects during the 2016 
calendar year. Similarly, to determine the inflation figure for 
subparagraph (ii) under sections 771.117(c)(23) and 771.118(c)(13), the 
Agencies multiplied 1.0359 by $30,000,000 with the following result: 
$31,077,938.44. These figures ($5,179,656.40 and $31,077,938.44) are 
posted on the Agencies' Web sites and will be updated annually in 
January of subsequent years. Posting these figures also complies with

[[Page 34272]]

section 1314(b)(1) which requires providing the first adjustment ``not 
later than 60 days after the date of enactment of [the FAST] Act.''
    Section 1315(b) requires FHWA to revise its CE regulation on 
programmatic agreements. Specifically, FHWA must revise 23 CFR 
771.117(g) to allow a State Department of Transportation (State DOT) to 
make a CE determination on behalf of FHWA. The revision must clarify 
that the authority under such agreements may include the responsibility 
to make CE determinations for actions described in 23 CFR 771.117(c)-
(d) that meet the criteria for a CE under 40 CFR 1508.4 (the 
President's Council on Environmental Quality's Regulations for 
Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA) and are identified in 
the programmatic agreement.
    This rulemaking adopts the language used in FAST Act section 
1315(b) with two minor changes to retain the style used throughout the 
regulation: FHWA uses the abbreviation ``CE'' instead of ``categorical 
exclusion'' and ``40 CFR 1508.4'' instead of the statutory language of 
``section 1508.4 of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations.'' The rule 
set forth below incorporates the new phrase ``and that meet the 
criteria for a CE under 40 CFR 1508.4, and are identified in the 
programmatic agreement'' into the otherwise existing regulatory 
language in 23 CFR 771.117(g). The FHWA reprints below the paragraph 
771.117(g) to show how the statutory language is incorporated into the 
paragraph as a whole.
    The Agencies have determined that a final rule is appropriate in 
this instance because the language in the FAST Act is clear and does 
not require interpretive text. Therefore the amendments to 23 CFR 
771.117(c)(23), 23 CFR 771.118(c)(13), and 23 CFR 771.117(g) follow the 
statutory language without substantive modification.
    Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b)), an agency 
may waive the normal notice and comment procedure if it finds, for good 
cause, that it would be impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the 
public interest. The Agencies find good cause as notice and comment for 
this rule would be unnecessary due to the nature of the revisions 
(i.e., the rule simply incorporates the statutory language found in 
sections 1315(b) and 1314 of FAST without interpretation). The 
statutory language does not require regulatory interpretation to carry 
out its intent. The regulatory amendments in this final rule 
incorporate the statutory language, and comments cannot alter the 
regulation given the explicit mandate. Accordingly, the Agencies find 
good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) to waive notice and opportunity 
for comment.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    The Agencies have determined this action is not a significant 
regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 12866, and 
within the meaning of the U.S. Department of Transportation's 
regulatory policies and procedures. Since this rulemaking implements a 
congressional mandate to allow States to make a CE determination on 
behalf of FHWA in specific instances and to adjust existing monetary-
based CEs for inflation, the Agencies anticipate that the economic 
impact of this rulemaking would be minimal. This final rule will not 
adversely affect, in a material way, any sector of the economy. 
Additionally, this action complies with the principles of Executive 
Order 13563. In addition, these changes will not interfere with any 
action taken or planned by another agency and would not materially 
alter the budgetary impact of any entitlements, grants, user fees, or 
loan programs. Consequently, a full regulatory evaluation is not 
required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Since the Agencies find good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) to 
waive notice and opportunity for comment for this rule, the provisions 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354, 5 U.S.C. 601-612) do 
not apply. However, the Agencies evaluated the effects of this action 
on small entities and determined the action would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
This final rule will not make any substantive changes to the Agencies' 
regulations or in the way that the Agencies' regulations affect small 
entities; it merely incorporates statutory text. For this reason, the 
Agencies certify that this action will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This final rule does not impose unfunded mandates as defined by the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48, 
March 22, 1995) as it will not result in the expenditure by State, 
local, tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, 
of $155 million or more in any one year (2 U.S.C. 1532).

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism Assessment)

    Executive Order 13132 requires agencies to assure meaningful and 
timely input by State and local officials in the development of 
regulatory policies that may have a substantial, direct effect on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. This action has been analyzed in 
accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive 
Order 13132 dated August 4, 1999, and the Agencies determined this 
action will not have a substantial direct effect or sufficient 
federalism implications on the States. The Agencies also determined 
this action will not preempt any State law or regulation or affect the 
States' ability to discharge traditional State governmental functions.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding 
intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities apply 
to this program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501, et 
seq.), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget for each collection of information they conduct, 
sponsor, or require through regulations. The Agencies analyzed this 
final rule under the PRA and determined this rule does not contain 
collection of information requirements for the purposes of the PRA.

National Environmental Policy Act

    Agencies are required to adopt implementing procedures for NEPA 
that establish specific criteria for, and identification of, three 
classes of actions: Those that normally require preparation of an 
Environmental Impact Statement; those that normally require preparation 
of an Environmental Assessment; and those that are categorically 
excluded from further NEPA review (40 CFR 1507.3(b)). The CEQ 
regulations do not direct agencies to prepare a NEPA analysis or 
document before establishing Agency procedures (such as this 
regulation) that supplement the CEQ regulations for implementing NEPA. 
The changes

[[Page 34273]]

proposed in this rule are part of those agency procedures, and 
therefore establishing the proposed changes does not require 
preparation of a NEPA analysis or document. Agency NEPA procedures are 
generally procedural guidance to assist agencies in the fulfillment of 
agency responsibilities under NEPA, but are not the agency's final 
determination of what level of NEPA analysis is required for a 
particular proposed action. The requirements for establishing agency 
NEPA procedures are set forth at 40 CFR 1505.1 and 1507.3.

Executive Order 12898 (Environmental Justice)

    Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental 
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, and DOT 
Order 5610.2(a), 77 FR 27534 (May 10, 2012) (available online at 
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice/ej_at_dot/order_56102a/index.cfm), require DOT agencies to achieve environmental 
justice (EJ) as part of their mission by identifying and addressing, as 
appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or 
environmental effects, including interrelated social and economic 
effects, of their programs, policies, and activities on minority 
populations and low-income populations in the United States. The DOT 
Order requires DOT agencies to address compliance with the Executive 
Order and the DOT Order in all rulemaking activities. In addition, the 
Agencies have issued additional documents relating to administration of 
the Executive Order and the DOT Order. On June 14, 2012, FHWA issued an 
update to its EJ order, FHWA Order 6640.23A, FHWA Actions to Address 
Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income 
Populations (available online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/orders/664023a.cfm). The FTA also issued an update to its EJ policy, 
FTA Policy Guidance for Federal Transit Recipients, 77 FR 42077 (July 
17, 2012) (available online at http://www.fta.dot.gov/legislation_law/12349_14740.html).
    The Agencies have evaluated this final rule under the Executive 
Order, the DOT Order, the FHWA Order, and FTA Policy Guidance. They 
determined that the amendment would not cause disproportionately high 
and adverse human health and environmental effects on minority or low 
income populations.
    At the time the Agencies apply the NEPA implementing procedures in 
23 CFR part 771, they would have an independent obligation to conduct 
an evaluation of the proposed action under the applicable EJ orders and 
guidance to determine whether the proposed action has the potential for 
EJ effects. The rule would not affect the scope or outcome of that EJ 
evaluation. In any instance where there are potential EJ effects 
resulting from a proposed Agency action covered under any of the NEPA 
classes of action in 23 CFR part 771, public outreach under the 
applicable EJ orders and guidance would provide affected populations 
with the opportunity to raise any concerns about those potential EJ 
effects. See DOT Order 5610.2(a), FHWA Order 6640.23A, and FTA Policy 
Guidance for Transit Recipients (available at links above). Indeed, 
outreach to ensure the effective involvement of minority and low income 
populations where there is potential for EJ effects is a core aspect of 
the EJ orders and guidance. For these reasons, the Agencies have 
determined that no further EJ analysis is needed and no mitigation is 
required in connection with the proposed revisions to the Agencies' 
NEPA regulations (23 CFR parts 771).

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    The Agencies have analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 
12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally 
Protected Property Rights. The Agencies found this final rule will not 
affect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking 
implications under Executive Order 12630.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This action meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, 
eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    The Agencies analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045, 
Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks. The Agencies certify that this action would not cause an 
environmental risk to health or safety that might disproportionately 
affect children.

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    The Agencies have analyzed this action under Executive Order 13175, 
dated November 6, 2000, and determined the action will not have 
substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes; will not 
impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal 
governments; and will not preempt tribal laws. This final rule 
addresses obligations of Federal funds to States for Federal-aid 
highway projects and Federal funds to transit agencies for Federal 
public transportation projects and will not impose any direct 
compliance requirements on Indian tribal governments. Therefore, a 
tribal summary impact statement is not required.

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    The Agencies have analyzed this action under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. The Agencies determined this rule is not a 
significant energy action under that order since it is not a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and is not 
likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy. Therefore, a Statement of Energy 
Effects is not required.

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN number contained in the 
heading of this document can be used to cross-reference this action 
with the Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects

23 CFR Part 771

    Categorical exclusions, Environmental review process, Environmental 
protection, Grant programs--transportation, Highways and roads, 
Programmatic approaches, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

49 CFR Part 622

    Categorical exclusions, Environmental review process, Environmental 
protection, Grant programs--transportation, Public transportation, 
Transit.

    Issued on: May 20, 2016.
Gregory G. Nadeau,
Federal Highway Administrator.
Carolyn Flowers,
Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Agencies amend title 23, 
Code of

[[Page 34274]]

Federal Regulations part 771, and title 49, Code of Federal Regulations 
part 662, as follows:

TITLE 23--Highways

PART 771--ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND RELATED PROCEDURES

0
1. Revise the authority citation for part 771 to read as follows:

    Authority:  42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 23 U.S.C. 106, 109, 128, 
138, 139, 315, 325, 326, and 327; 49 U.S.C. 303; 40 CFR parts 1500-
1508; 49 CFR 1.81, 1.85, and 1.91; Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144, 
Sections 6002 and 6010; Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405, Sections 
1315, 1316, 1317, 1318, and 1319; Pub. L. 114-94, 129 Stat. 1312, 
Sections 1314 and 1315.


0
2. Revise Sec.  771.117(c)(23) and (g) introductory text to read as 
follows:


Sec.  771.117  FHWA categorical exclusions.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (23) Federally-funded projects:
    (i) That receive less than $5,000,000 (as adjusted annually by the 
Secretary to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index prepared 
by the Department of Labor, see www.fhwa.dot.gov or www.fta.dot.gov) of 
Federal funds; or
    (ii) With a total estimated cost of not more than $30,000,000 (as 
adjusted annually by the Secretary to reflect any increases in the 
Consumer Price Index prepared by the Department of Labor, see 
www.fhwa.dot.gov or www.fta.dot.gov) and Federal funds comprising less 
than 15 percent of the total estimated project cost.
* * * * *
    (g) FHWA may enter into programmatic agreements with a State to 
allow a State DOT to make a NEPA CE certification or determination and 
approval on FHWA's behalf, for CEs specifically listed in paragraphs 
(c) and (d) of this section and that meet the criteria for a CE under 
40 CFR 1508.4, and are identified in the programmatic agreement. Such 
agreements must be subject to the following conditions:
* * * * *

0
3. Revise Sec.  771.118(c)(13) to read as follows:


Sec.  771.118  FTA categorical exclusions.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (13) Federally-funded projects:
    (i) That receive less than $5,000,000 (as adjusted annually by the 
Secretary to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index prepared 
by the Department of Labor, see www.fhwa.dot.gov or www.fta.dot.gov) of 
Federal funds; or
    (ii) With a total estimated cost of not more than $30,000,000 (as 
adjusted annually by the Secretary to reflect any increases in the 
Consumer Price Index prepared by the Department of Labor, see 
www.fhwa.dot.gov or www.fta.dot.gov) and Federal funds comprising less 
than 15 percent of the total estimated project cost.
* * * * *

TITLE 49--Transportation

PART 622--ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND RELATED PROCEDURES

0
4. Revise the authority citation for part 622 to read as follows:

    Authority:  42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 49 U.S.C. 303 and 5323(q); 
23 U.S.C. 139 and 326; Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144, Sections 6002 
and 6010; 40 CFR parts 1500-1508; 49 CFR 1.81; Pub. L. 112-141, 126 
Stat. 405, Sections 1315, 1316, 1317, 1318, and 1319; and Pub. L. 
114-94, 129 Stat. 1312, Section 1314.

[FR Doc. 2016-12577 Filed 5-27-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P