Signed on August 10, 2005, the “Safe Affordable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act – Legacy of Users” (SAFETEA-LU) allowed states to assume federal responsibility for Categorical Exclusion (CE) determinations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and established a five-state pilot program allowing the United States Department of Transportation Secretary to delegate all environmental review responsibilities to those five states. Under the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) the pilot program was converted into a permanent Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program (NEPA Assignment).
To help implement the efficiencies incorporated into federal law, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) seeks to assume Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) responsibility for carrying out environmental approvals under both available programs concurrently: Responsibility for Categorical Exclusions (23 USC 326) and the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program (23 USC 327). With this assignment of federal environmental review responsibility, ADOT will be responsible for complying with all applicable federal environmental laws, regulations, Executive Orders and policies, and will be solely legally responsible for environmental decisions made on all ADOT projects.
ADOT will go through an approximate year-long effort to assume FHWA responsibility. See the milestone calendar and requirements below for more details. Once assumed, this would apply to both highway projects and local government agency projects.
ADOT Actions leading toward NEPA Assignment
ADOT is currently getting some new procedures and guidelines in place to assume federal environmental review responsibilities in addition to the certain actions that are required by each state entering into this program.
CE Assignment - 23 USC 326
- Requires the state DOT and the FHWA to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Categorical Exclusion (CE) projects.
NEPA Assignment - 23 USC 327
- Requires a formal Application, which includes a public review and comment period
- Requires the state DOT and the FHWA to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) projects.
- Requires Sovereign Immunity Waiver
- On March 22, 2017, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Senate Bill 1211 which amended the Arizona Revised Statues Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 28-334 C. to allow ADOT to assume federal environmental review responsibility and to waive sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution for the limited purposes of addressing legal matters in carrying out federal environmental review responsibilities pursuant to 23 USC 326 and 23 USC 327.
View a recording of the August 15, 2017, webinar presentation held for Agencies and Tribal Governments here: ADOT Effort to seek NEPA Assignment. This presentation provides an overview of the NEPA Assignment process.
CE Assignment - Fall 2017
NEPA Assignment - Spring 2018
NEPA Assignment Contacts
Paul O’Brien, Environmental Planning Administrator, phone: 602.712.8669.
Joanie Cady, NEPA Assignment and Major Projects Manager, phone: 602.712.8633.