"Major action" means an action that will have significant effects on the quality of the human environment. It does not include actions whose significance is based only on economic or social effects.
"Major and significant new proposal" means a new proposal developed by the department which, if legislatively authorized and funded, may significantly affect the quality of the human environment and represents a significant departure from, or expansion of, the department's existing responsibilities by substantially expanding or substantially reducing total resources allocated to any existing programs.
"Mitigation" means avoiding, minimizing, rectifying, reducing, eliminating or compensating for adverse environmental effects of a proposed action.
"Notice of availability," "notice of intent," "notice of opportunity for public hearing" or "notice of public hearing" means a class 1 notice as defined in ch. 985, Stats.
"ROD" or "record of decision" means a public record which identifies:
"Reevaluation" means the review of a DEIS or FEIS to assess whether there have been significant changes in the proposed action, the affected human environment, the anticipated environmental impacts, or the proposed mitigation measures.
"Scoping" means an early, open process with the public and public agencies for identifying the anticipated range of issues for a proposed action.
"Significant effects" means considerable and important impacts of department actions on the quality of the human environment.
"SEE" or "system-plan environmental evaluation" means a conceptual environmental evaluation, that shall be considered the "detailed statement" required by statute commonly known as"environmental impact statement," developed as an integral element of a system plan that contemplates that if the plan recommendations are implemented, there will be subsequent project or site-specific environmental reviews. A SEE also serves as the LEIS regarding reports or recommendations on legislation required to implement the plan.
"System plan" means a plan which identifies transportation facility or service needs for a statewide system. The needs are identified conceptually without addressing specific design and locational details.
"Tiering" means the coverage of general matters in a broad EIS with subsequent narrower statements or environmental analyses which incorporate by reference the general discussion of the EIS.
Trans 400.04 History
Cr. Register, April, 1992, No. 436
, eff. 5-1-92;
am. (7) and (12), Register, February, 1999, No. 518
, eff. 3-1-99.
Federal regulations adopted.
Federal regulations, 23 CFR 771.115
(a) and 771.123(a), April 1, 1998, adopted jointly by the federal highway administration and urban mass transit administration of the United States department of transportation, and its federal aviation administration order 5050.4A, chapter 3, paragraphs 20, 21, 22, and 23, October 8, 1985, pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.4
, July 1, 1998, as approved by the United States council on environmental quality, and 40 CFR 1506.8
are adopted by the department and are attached hereto in appendix 1.
Trans 400.05 Note
Note: The "urban mass transit administration" has been renamed the "federal transit administration," but the federal rule text has not yet been changed.
Trans 400.05 History
Cr. Register, April, 1992, No. 436
, eff. 5-1-92;
am. Register, February, 1999, No. 518
, eff. 3-1-99.
The department shall strive to protect and enhance the quality of the human environment in carrying out its basic transportation mission and shall consider pertinent environmental factors consequential to any proposed action. The policy expressed in this section and the procedures defined in this chapter shall be implemented as an integrated process beginning during the initial planning stage for department action.
The department acknowledges WEPA as a legal obligation shared by all divisions of the department to evaluate and be aware of environmental consequences of proposed actions.
Alternative courses of action shall be evaluated and decisions on proposed actions shall be made in the best overall public interest consistent with state and federal statutes and regulations. Decisions on proposed actions shall be based upon a balanced consideration of the findings of the environmental document, public comments, and the need for safe and efficient transportation consistent with local, state and national environmental goals.
Public involvement, interagency coordination and consultation, and a systematic interdisciplinary approach to analysis of the issues shall be essential parts of the environmental process for proposed actions.
Measures necessary to avoid, minimize and to mitigate adverse environmental impacts of proposed actions shall be part of the development and evaluation of alternatives.
The department shall implement procedures to make the WEPA process more useful to decision makers and the public by reducing paperwork and reducing delay utilizing the means for achieving these goals as specified in the rules of the United States council on environmental quality at 40 CFR 1500.4
, July 1, 1990, that are attached hereto in appendix 1. Environmental documents shall be concise, clear, and to the point and emphasize real environmental issues and alternatives.
In carrying out its responsibility under s. 1.11
, Stats., the department shall substantially follow the guidelines issued as rules by the United States council on environmental quality and federal transportation agencies.
Trans 400.06 History
Cr. Register, April, 1992, No. 436
, eff. 5-1-92.
Action designation and environmental documentation. Trans 400.07(1)(1)
The designations, EIS and CE shall be used to categorize department actions. Actions designated EIS actions shall be considered major actions, and actions designated CE shall be considered categorical exclusions. An EA and an ER describe procedures to be followed to categorize department actions. The EA process yields a determination whether an action requires an EIS or a finding of no significant impact. The ER process confirms whether an action falls within a categorical exclusion or requires further evaluation and documentation.
Except for actions designated CE actions which do not require any environmental documentation, actions and procedures designated EIS, EA or ER shall require the following environmental documentation:
EIS or LEIS.
An EIS action is a major action. An LEIS may be prepared for a major and significant new proposal.
An environmental impact statement, or EIS, shall be prepared for major actions.
A legislative environmental impact, or LEIS, may be prepared when a major and significant new proposal consists of a report or recommendation of the department on a proposal for legislation initiated by the department that is not within the scope of any categorical exclusion.
EA, SEE or screening sheet.
An EA is a procedure followed for an action for which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established. An EA, SEE or screening sheet may be used as follows:
An EA shall be prepared for those project actions for which the significance of the environmental impact is not clearly established. If it is concluded from the analysis in the EA that the action is a major action, an EIS shall be prepared. If it is concluded from the analysis in the EA that the action is not a major action, the EA shall be revised to constitute a FONSI, and the FONSI shall serve as the environmental document. The FONSI shall be prepared only after availability of the EA for public and cooperating agency review and comment and the incorporation of any appropriate revisions resulting from the public involvement process. Where a permit will be required or other agency coordination is specifically required by law, the FONSI may serve as the vehicle for such permit or coordinating agency approval.
A SEE may be prepared in the case of proposals contained in system plans, if it is concluded they are major and significant new proposals. If it is concluded from an analysis of the system plan that it does not contain any major and significant new proposals, a clear statement of that determination may be incorporated within the system plan or as a separately identifiable and retained record of the department's determination.
In the case of reports or recommendations of the department on proposals for legislation initiated by the department, if it is concluded from the screening sheet they contain major and significant new proposals, an LEIS may be prepared. If it is concluded from the screening sheet that they do not contain any major and significant new proposals or are within the scope of any categorical exclusion, a clear statement of that determination may be included on the screening sheet.
An ER is a procedure followed for an action that is likely to fit the criteria for a conditional categorical exclusion in 23 CFR 771.117
(d), April 1, 1998 or federal aviation administration order 5050.4A, chapter 3, paragraph 23.a., October 8, 1985, or otherwise requires coordination with or concurrence of another agency. An environmental report, or ER, shall be prepared to demonstrate whether the proposed action does fit the criteria or conditions for approval as a categorical exclusion and has been properly coordinated with other agencies having jurisdiction by law over specific activities. The ER shall serve as the department's record of coordination with other agencies having jurisdiction over specific activities, including the following activities:
Construction-related activities including, but not limited to, stream crossings, fills in wetlands and temporary structures in or over streams or wetlands.
Defined land use acquisition including, but not limited to, the acquisition of agricultural lands, historic or archeological sites, and state, county or national forest lands.
Trans 400.07 History
Cr. Register, April, 1992, No. 436
, eff. 5-1-92; am. (1), (2) (intro.), (a), (b) and (c) (intro.), Register, February, 1999, No. 518
, eff. 3-1-99.
Categorization of department actions. Trans 400.08(1)(1)
Based on federal regulations and past experience with analysis of similar actions the following are categorized as EIS, EA, ER or CE:
EIS — Environmental Impact Statement.
The federal highway administration regulations at 23 CFR 771.115
(a) April 1, 1998, federal aviation administration order 5050.4A, chapter 3, paragraph 21, October 8, 1985, identify types of federally funded actions which require the preparation of an environmental impact statement.
Trans 400.08 Note
Note: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the federal government to prepare environmental documentation for major federal actions. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation prepares the federal environmental documentation for review and approval by the federal government of actions for which federal funds are to be used by the Department. The requirements for federally funded actions are followed by the Department when federal funds are involved. These federally funded actions are also actions of the Department to which the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) applies. Finally, when the Department pursues an action for which only State funds are involved, NEPA does not apply, but WEPA still applies. The intent of this chapter is to direct the Department to follow NEPA and its implementing regulations for both NEPA and WEPA purposes when federal funds are involved in the proposed action. The intent is to apply WEPA and its implementing rules in this chapter when only State funds are involved in the proposed actions, but to make the WEPA implementing rules track the federal law and federal regulations as closely as possible.
The following are examples of department major actions that require the preparation of an environmental impact statement:
New construction or extension of fixed rail transit facilities including rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, and automated guideway transit.
New construction or extension of a separate roadway for buses or high occupancy vehicles not located within an existing highway facility.
First time airport layout plan approval or airport location approval for a commercial service airport located in a standard metropolitan statistical area.
Federal financial participation in, or airport layout plan approval of, a new runway capable of handling air carrier aircraft at a commercial service airport in a standard metropolitan statistical area.
Trans 400.08 Note
The federal railroad administration regulation at 49 CFR 266.19
, October 1, 1997, generally identifies actions that do not require an environmental impact statement.
EA — Environmental Assessment.
EA procedures apply to actions for which the significance of the environmental impacts is not clearly established and require the preparation of an environmental assessment to make that determination. The federal highway administration regulations at 23 CFR 771.115
(c) April 1, 1998, and the federal aviation order 5050.4A, chapter 3, paragraph 22, October 8, 1985 identify the types of federal actions that require the preparation of an environmental assessment. Examples of the department's actions that are required to follow the EA procedure are as follows:
1. `Highways and transit.'
Highways and transit actions that are not EIS or CE actions are required to follow EA procedures. This category requires the preparation of an environmental assessment to determine the appropriate environmental document required, unless it appears an ER would be more appropriate.
An airport layout plan approval of the following types of actions shall be subject to the analysis of an environmental assessment and subsequent decision as to whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact:
Runway strengthening which would result in a 1.5 Ldn or greater increase in noise over any noise sensitive area located within the 65 Ldn contour.
Construction or relocation of entrance or service road connections to public roads which adversely affect the capacity of such public roads.
Land acquisition associated with any of the items in subds. 2. a.
and land acquisition which results in relocation of residential units when there is evidence of insufficient comparable replacement dwellings or major disruption of business activities.
Establishment or relocation of an instrument landing system, or an approach lighting system.
An airport development action that affects property of state or local historical, architectural, archeological, or cultural significance; requires land acquisition of over 5 acres from a farm operation; affects wetlands, coastal zones, or floodplains; or affects endangered or threatened species.
3. `Administrative facilities.'
Construction of a new or replacement administrative building, including an office building, state patrol academy, driver licensing and testing station, state patrol communications building, or other similar facility, at a new location.
4. `Financial assistance.'
This provision applies to issuance as well as acceptance of the following grants by the department:
Financial grant for construction of a new disposal facility for harbor dredge material.
Financial grant for dredging of material for the purpose of expanding an existing harbor.
Financial grant for disposal of contaminated harbor dredge material into a new disposal facility.
Change in policy for nonhighway use of highway right-of-way or non-railroad use of railroad right-of-way by utility companies, or for access to public roads or private residential or commercial driveways or farm crossings.
Change in policy for transport of hazardous cargo, such as explosives, hazardous wastes, toxins, radioactive material, or any other similar cargo.
Change in policy for the maintenance program relating to the use of deicing materials, or to the use of pesticides, herbicides or insecticides within the right-of-way, or to the use of cutback asphalt or creosoted ties, or other similar materials.
6. `System planning.'
Publication or adoption of a system plan. Preparation of a SEE or EA for a system plan is discretionary.
ER — Environmental Report.
ER procedures apply to actions identified in 23 CFR 771.117
(d), April 1, 1998, and federal aviation administration order 5050.4A, chapter 3, paragraph 23a., October 8, 1985. ER actions require documentation with an environmental report. The environmental report shall demonstrate that the action meets the criteria for a categorical exclusion by demonstrating that specific conditions or criteria for the action have been addressed and that significant environmental effects will not result. Examples of ER actions to which ER procedures apply are as follows:
Modernization of a highway by resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, adding shoulders, or adding auxiliary lanes, including lanes for parking, weaving, turning or climbing.