.03 Environmental Assessment Form and Environmental Effects Report.

A. Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).

(1) An EAF will be completed for each of the proposed actions identified by the Act and described by these guidelines.

(2) The EAF (an example of which appears in Regulation .08A) consists of a list of questions which can be answered "yes", or "no", or "comments attached". The answers to the questions on the environmental assessment form will assist in determining whether or not an environmental effects report will be prepared. An answer of "yes" will generate a presumption in favor of preparation of an environmental effects report. However, this presumption may be overcome by the official preparing the assessment form by checking "comments attached" and explaining why an action in his opinion needs no environmental report even though some of the questions of the EAF are answered affirmatively.

(3) It is anticipated that the use of the EAF early in the decision-making process will promote the objectives of the Act by stimulating consideration by the Department of environmental and socioeconomic effects of the proposed action.

B. Environmental Effects Report (EER). An environmental effects report (EER) will consist of an environmental assessment form (See Regulation .08A) which will be attached to the front of every EER, and the body of the EER report. The amount of detail provided in the report will be commensurate with the extent of the expected impact of the action. In general, the greater the magnitude of impact the more detailed will be the discussion. For a particular action, some sections will be given more attention than others. Sections which are especially relevant to a particular action will be treated extensively. Nevertheless, each section will be given at least summary treatment. The body of every report shall contain the following sections:

(1) Summary of Environmental Effects Report. The summary, the purpose of which is to enable the General Assembly and the public to determine quickly the nature, location, alternatives to, and effects of, any particular agency action, shall:

(a) Identify the administration, agency, board, commission or other unit of the Department issuing the report and responsible official; and

(b) Provide a short summary (1 to 2 pages) of the information contained in the environmental effects report (See Regulation .08B).

(2) Description of the Proposed Action. This shall include a concise statement of the ecological, socioeconomic, and other objectives that the proposed action intends to fulfill; e.g., numerical expression, where appropriate, of the increase in employment opportunities, new office facilities, and increase in per capita income. When appropriate, the objectives will be discussed in the context of "State plans", "regional demand studies", or other broad frameworks. It shall also include:

(a) The proposal by name.

(b) The specific location of the proposed action shown on a map.

(c) A description of the extent (i.e., square feet, acres, miles of right-of-ways and other pertinent physical characteristics) of the project. The project description will contain a discussion of development associated with the proposed site and the secondary developments required by the proposed action including the need for utilities, other services, and transportation systems necessary to support the primary development of the site. Public facilities and public investments that might result if the proposed action is taken will be discussed. If the action is a portion of a larger action, then the relationship of the action under consideration to the larger action will be discussed. The historical background and current status of the proposed action in regard to engineering, construction and activation schedule will be summarized. The cost of the action and the proposed method of financing will be identified.

(3) Alternatives to the Proposed Action. This section will include a description of the alternatives considered for meeting the objectives of the proposed action. Alternatives may include:

(a) No action;

(b) Deferring action; or

(c) Other approaches to meeting the main objectives, including:

(i) Other locations for the proposal;

(ii) Other ways to accomplish the objective;

(iii) Different scaling of the development of the proposal (e.g., to provide greater coordination with community development plans and presently existing planned usage patterns);

(iv) Other scheduling or timing of the proposal (e.g., to avoid potential disruptive effect on the local economy, or to assure adequate revenues to finance the proposal).

(4) A comparison of environmental and socioeconomic effects associated with the alternatives will be undertaken. Specific reasons for rejecting each alternative in favor of the present proposal will be stated.

(5) Environmental (Ecological and Socioeconomic) Setting Without the Action. This section will include both the regional and local setting of the project and address applicable considerations in the EAF and the environmental checklist provided in §B(6).

(6) Adverse and Beneficial Environmental Effects.

(a) The Environmental Considerations Checklist. The following list of environmental considerations will guide the development of the "setting without the action" and the adverse and beneficial environmental effects section. These factors, some of which may not be applicable to specific projects, may include, but are limited to:

(i) Hydrology;

(ii) Geology;

(iii) Physiography and geomorphology;

(iv) Climatology;

(v) Soils;

(vi) Biotic consideration--plants and animals;

(vii) Aesthetic considerations;

(viii) Employment pattern considerations:

(ix) Tax revenue considerations;

(x) Impact on retention of current industry;

(xi) Impact on attraction of new industry;

(xii) Impact on attractiveness of area for tourism;

(xiii) Cultural and socioeconomic considerations;

(xiv) Historical considerations;

(xv) Archeological considerations;

(xvi) Land uses;

(xvii) Water uses;

(xviii) Energy and utilities.

(b) Adverse environmental effects include discussion of the reduction, conversion, loss, or other adverse effect on the quality or quantity of applicable environmental considerations.

(c) Beneficial environmental effects address the renewal, conservation, preservation, enhancement, or other beneficial effect on the quality or quantity of the applicable environmental considerations.

(d) Depth of Analysis. The adverse environmental effects section and the beneficial environmental effects section will examine and discuss only those considerations of the environmental considerations checklist that the project or action significantly effects. Several factors may be considered in deciding how extensively a particular natural and socioeconomic environmental considered should be treated:

(i) The magnitude of the project (geographic extent and duration);

(ii) The extent to which the particular environmental consideration will be effected;

(iii) The extent to which alternatives may result in different effects upon the particular consideration; and

(iv) The cost of the action (ecologic and socioeconomic), both short-term and long-term.

(7) Measures Taken to Minimize Adverse Environmental Effects and Maximize Beneficial Environmental Effects.

(a) Whenever appropriate remedial, protective, or mitigating considerations such as monitoring, alternate employment opportunities, alternate sources of lost revenues, maintenance, replacement operations, and follow-up activities which could or will be undertaken as a part of the proposed action will be included.

(b) Also, whenever appropriate, measures which could or will be undertaken to maximize potential beneficial environmental effects will be included.

(c) Any legal requirements for mitigation, the cost of the design and construction of each mitigation measure, alternative mitigation techniques, and the basis for the choice of one mitigation technique over other possible approaches, will be discussed.

(8) Unavoidable Adverse Environmental Effects. This section will include the following:

(a) A statement of the unavoidable detrimental aspects of the proposed action, which identifies the nature, extent, and the cost of the adverse effects;

(b) The objections to adverse effects raised by individuals or groups;

(c) Assessment of the cumulative and long-term effects of the proposed action with particular attention given to aspects of the project that would narrow the range or diversity of the beneficial use of the natural socioeconomic environment or pose long-term risks to health, safety, welfare, or the economic or social betterment of the locality or the State.

(9) Coordination with Other Interested Parties. A description of the coordination and liaison relationship established in developing the proposal and the environmental effects report will be included. This section may include participation of the business community, public and citizen groups, government agencies, and academic institutions.