FROM: JAMES CONNAUGHTON, Chair
SUBJECT: COOPERATING AGENCIES IN IMPLEMENTING THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations addressing cooperating agencies status implement the NEPA mandate that Federal agencies responsible for preparing NEPA analyses and documentation do so "in cooperation with State and local governments" and other agencies with jurisdiction by law or special expertise. The attached memorandum reminds Federal agencies of the importance of including State, Tribal and local governmental entities in the NEPA process and emphasizes the importance of establishing cooperating agency status when appropriate.
In cases where you have either jurisdiction by law or special expertise you should consider accepting or requesting an invitation to participate in the NEPA process as a cooperating agency. In those cases where cooperating agency status is not appropriate, you should consider opportunities to provide information and comments to the agencies preparing the NEPA analysis and documentation. CEQ supports your involvement in ensuring that decisionmakers have the environmental information necessary to make informed and timely decisions efficiently.
The benefits of enhanced cooperating agency participation in the preparation of Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), described in the enclosed memorandum include fostering intergovernmental trust (e.g., partnerships at the community level) and a common understanding and appreciation for various governmental roles in the NEPA process. It is important for you to consider your authority and capacity to assume the responsibilities of a cooperating agency and to remember that your role in the environmental analysis neither enlarges nor diminishes the final decisionmaking authority of any agency involved in the NEPA process.
If you have any questions concerning this memorandum, please contact Horst G. Greczmiel, Associate Director for NEPA Oversight at 202-395-5750, Horst_Greczmiel@ceq.eop.gov, or 202-456-0753 (fax).