Projects that receive federal funding, approval, or permits (including much of ODOT’s program) must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA compliance includes documenting environmental resources and avoiding, minimizing, and/or mitigating impacts on those resources. Projects without significant environmental impacts are considered “Categorically Excluded” in accordance with 23 CFR 771.117. Approximately 99% of ODOT’s $2.4 billion program meets the Categorical Exclusion (CE) criteria under 23 CFR 771.117. This means that most of ODOT’s projects do not individually or cumulatively have a significant environmental impact. ODOT’s NEPA CE Guidance defines five levels of CEs: C1 and C2 (projects that meet the criteria in 23 CFR 771.117(c) and typically do not require additional environmental documentation); and D1, D2, and D3 (projects that meet the criteria in 23 CFR 771.117(d), which require documentation to demonstrate they do not pose significant environmental impacts). The differences between CE levels is based on project type and environmental impacts.
ODOT’s CE Guidance also lays out the process for approving environmental documents. Projects with lower levels of impacts can be approved by ODOT district offices while those with higher levels of impacts (that still meet the CE criteria) are approved by the Office of Environmental Services (OES). Projects that exceed the CE criteria in 23 CFR 771.117 require an Environmental Assessment (EA)or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be completed. EAs and EISs must be approved by OES. All environmental documents are completed via ODOT-OES’s environmental documentation system: EnviroNet (also known as CE Online).
Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Agreement dated December 11, 2015 executed by FHWA and ODOT, ODOT has been assigned responsibility for compliance with all applicable federal environmental laws. This assignment was conducted under the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program, otherwise known as NEPA Assignment. For more information regarding this program or ODOT’s responsibilities under this program, please visit our NEPA Assignment website.