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Environmental Impact Statement Filing Guidance

Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9 and 1506.10, EPA is responsible for administering the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) filing process. The process of EIS filing includes:

  • receiving and recording of the EIS into EPA's EIS database,
  • for draft and final EISs, establishing the beginning and ending dates for comment and review periods,
  • publishing the comment and review dates in a weekly Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

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How to file an EIS

Federal agencies file an EIS by submitting the complete EIS, including appendices, to EPA through the e-NEPA electronic filing system. If a federal agency files an abbreviated final EIS (as described in 40 CFR 1503.4(c)), copies of the draft EIS should also be filed along with the abbreviated final EIS. 

Registration for e-NEPA is only open to government employees.

Requirements for distribution of EISs

  • Use of e-NEPA for electronic filing of EISs does not change any of the requirements for distribution of EISs to other federal agencies for review, including EPA Regional Offices, or the general public.
  • If EPA receives an EIS for official filing and transmittal of that EIS is not complete, EPA will not publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register until assurances have been given that the transmittal process is complete. Completion of an EIS distribution is verified through e-NEPA electronic filing system.
  • If EPA discovers that a filed EIS has not been transmitted, EPA will issue a notice with the weekly Notices of Availability retracting the EIS from public review of the EIS until the transmittal process is completed. Once the agency has fulfilled the requirements of 40 CFR 1506.9, and has completed the transmittal process, EPA will re-establish the filing date and the minimum time period, and will publish this information in the next Notice of Availability.

EPA regional offices generally require at least one paper copy of an EIS. See NEPA regional contacts for sending paper copies for regional review.

Requirements for circulation of EISs appear in 40 CFR 1502.19.

Telephone inquiries pertaining to EIS filing can be made to Justin Wright at (202) 564-0678.

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The steps to follow when a federal agency is adopting an EIS, or when an EIS is withdrawn, delayed or reopened

Adopting an EIS

EPA must be notified when a federal agency adopts an EIS in order to commence the appropriate comment or review period. If a federal agency chooses to adopt an EIS written by another agency, and it was not a cooperating agency in the preparation of the original EIS, the EIS must be recirculated and filed with EPA. In turn, EPA will publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register announcing that the document will have an appropriate comment or review period.

When an agency adopts an EIS on which it served as a cooperating agency, the document does not need to be circulated for public comment or review. It is also not necessary to file the EIS again with EPA. However, EPA should be notified in order to ensure that the official EIS record is accurate. Notifications can be sent to EIS-Filing (EIS-Filing@epa.gov). EPA will publish an amended Notice of Availability in the Federal Register that states that an adoption has occurred. This will not establish a comment period, but will complete the public record.

Withdrawing, delaying, or reopening a review period

EPA should also be notified of all situations where an agency has decided to withdraw, delay, or reopen a review period on an EIS. Notifications can be sent by email to EIS-Filing (EIS-Filing@epa.gov). All such notices to EPA will be reflected in EPA's weekly Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register. In the case of reopening EIS review periods, the lead agency should notify EPA as to what measures will be taken to ensure that the EIS is available to all interested parties. This is especially important for EIS reviews that are being reopened after a substantial amount of time has passed since the original review period closed.

All such notifications to EPA should be on agency letterhead or should include the agency's notice published in the Federal Register.

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Public review periods

The minimum time periods set forth 40 CFR 1506.10(b),(c), and (d) are calculated from the date EPA publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. Time periods do not end on the weekends or federal holidays, and will be extended to the next working day.

  • Comment periods for all draft EISs shall extend for 45 calendar days
    • unless the lead agency extends the prescribed period or a reduction of the period has been granted.
  • The review periods for all final EISs shall extend for 30 calendar days
    • unless the lead agency extends the period or a reduction in the period has been granted.

A lead agency must notify EPA of an extended time period when either filing the EIS through e-NEPA or by email to EIS-Filing (EIS-Filing@epa.gov).

Agencies often publish a date by which all comments on an EIS are to be received; such actions are encouraged. However, agencies should ensure that the date they use is based on the date of EPA's publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

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Issuance of Notice of Availability in the Federal Register

EPA prepares a weekly report of all EISs filed during the preceding week for publication each Friday under a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. If the Friday is a federal holiday, the publication will be on Thursday. Amended notices may be added to the Notice of Availability to include:

  • corrections,
  • changes in time periods of previously filed EISs,
  • withdrawals of EISs by lead agencies, and
  • retraction of EISs by EPA.

EPA also publishes a list of those EISs received each week in EPA’s EIS Database.

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