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Department of Defense - NEPA Review (9-FD-f)

Information current as of 2020
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to consider the potential environmental consequences of their proposed action, and any reasonable alternatives, before deciding whether and in what form to take an action. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) ensures that Federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA.

This flowchart illustrates the process through which military branches obtain NEPA approval to continue with proposed projects.

The Army, Air Force, and Navy have developed their own regulations applicable to their branch of the DOD. These regulations are based on those in 40 C.F.R. § 1508. Any differences in procedure between the branches are indicated in the content sections.


The Department of the Army sets out policy and procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act through 32 C.F.R. § 651.

Air Force

The United States Air Force provides procedures for environmental impact analysis through 32 C.F.R. § 989. The process within this DOD branch is labeled ‘Air Force Environmental Impact Analysis Process’ (EIAP).

The Air Force uses AF Form 813 to document a request for environmental analysis or for certain Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) determinations for proposed actions. 32 C.F.R. § 989.12

The Environmental Planning Function (EPF) is one of the key Air Force participants responsible for the EIAP. The EPF prepares and files most documents associated with the environmental review process, and ensures that the process is conducted according to the applicable Air Force rules. 32 C.F.R. § 989.3(e)


The Navy implements the requirements of NEPA through 32 C.F.R. § 775.

Department of Defense - NEPA Review Process

9-FD-f.1 – Identify Need for Action

When the actions of a DOD branch will affect human health and the environment, the requirements of NEPA must be considered.


According to 32 C.F.R. § 651.10, the general types of proposed actions that require environmental impact analysis (unless categorically excluded), include:

  • Policies, regulations, and procedures;
  • New management and operational concepts and programs;
  • Projects involving facilities construction;
  • Operations and activities including individual and unit training, flight operations, overall operation of installations, or facility test and evaluation programs;
  • Actions that require licenses for operations or special material use, including a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license, an Army radiation authorization, or Federal Aviation Administration air space request;
  • Materiel development, operation and support, disposal, and/or modification as required by DOD;
  • Transfer of significant equipment or property to the Army National Guard or Army Reserve;
  • Research and development including areas such as genetic engineering, laser testing, and electromagnetic pulse generation;
  • Leases, easements, permits, licenses, or other entitlement for use, to include donation, exchange, barter, or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU);
  • Federal contracts, grants, subsidies, loans, or other forms of funding such as Government-owned, Contractor-Operated industrial plants or housing and construction via third-party contracting;
  • Request for approval to use or store materials, radiation sources, hazardous and toxic material, or wastes on Army land; and
  • Projects involving chemical weapons/munitions.


The Navy requires environmental review for a proposed major Federal action that has the potential for significantly affecting the human environment. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations define ‘major federal actions’ subject to evaluation under NEPA to include “new and continuing activities.” New activities include those that are not ongoing at the time of the proposal. Continuing activities include activities which are presently being carried out in fulfillment of the Navy mission and function.

9-FD-f.2 to 9-FD-f.4 - Is Emergency Action Required?


The Army will, as necessary, take immediate actions that have environmental impacts in the case of an emergency without following the environmental requirements outlined in 32 C.F.R. § 651. These include actions to promote national defense or security or to protect life or property. In such cases, at the earliest practicable time, the Army developer will notify the Office of the Director of Environmental Programs (ODEP), which in turn will notify the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installation and Environment).

The Assistant Secretary will coordinate with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment and the CEQ regarding the emergency and subsequent NEPA compliance after the emergency action has been completed. These notifications apply only to actions necessary to control the immediate effects of the emergency. Other actions remain subject to NEPA review.

The Army will not delay an emergency action necessary for national defense, security, or preservation of human life or property in order to comply with NEPA requirements or CEQ regulations. However, the Army’s on-site commander dealing with the emergency must consider the probable environmental consequences of proposed actions, and will minimize environmental damage to the maximum degree practicable, consistent with protecting human life, property, and national security. 32 C.F.R. § 651.11(b).

Air Force

Emergency situations do not exempt the Air Force from complying with NEPA, but do allow emergency response while completing the EIAP.

Certain emergency situations make it necessary to take immediate action having significant environmental impact, without observing all applicable rules. 32 C.F.R. § 989.34(b)

If possible, the Air Force developer must promptly notify the Air Force Headquarters and environmental office before undertaking emergency actions that would otherwise not comply with NEPA or equivalent Air Force rules. The immediate notification requirement does not apply where emergency action must be taken without delay. Coordination in this instance must take place as soon as practicable. 32 C.F.R. § 989.34(b).


Where emergency circumstances require immediate action, for the protection of lives and for public health and safety, which could result in significant harm to the environment, the activity Commanding Officer must report the emergency action taken to the Chief of Naval Operations who will facilitate the appropriate consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality. 32 C.F.R. § 775.6(d)

9-FD-f.5 - Does DOD Determine that an EIS is Necessary?

The DOD may determine that an EIS is necessary for the project. If the DOD makes such a determination, then the developer must initiate the EIS process.

9-FD-f.6 to 9-FD-f.8 - Is an On-Site Evaluation Required?

The DOD branch will determine whether an on-site evaluation is required. An on-site evaluation may not be required for activities covered under casual use or categorical exclusion (CE).

If an On-Site Evaluation has not yet been completed, it is conducted to evaluate the potential impacts from the activity.

If an On-Site Evaluation has been completed, the DOD branch will evaluate the significance of impacts from proposed activity.

On-Site Evaluation Process (Geothermal)

On-Site Evaluation Process (Transmission)

On-Site Evaluation Process (Hydropower)

On-Site Evaluation Process (Solar)

9-FD-f.9 - Initiate Evaluation

Following a determination by the DOD branch that environmental consideration is necessary, further NEPA review will be initiated.

9-FD-f.10 to 9-FD-f.12 - Is Classified Action Required?

The fact that certain information is classified does not relieve DOD branches from the requirement to assess and document the environmental effects of a proposed action. (Army: 32 C.F.R. § 651.13(b)) (Air Force: 32 C.F.R. § 989.26(a)) (Navy: 32 C.F.R. § 775.5(a))


When the Army can reasonably separate classified information and produce a meaningful environmental analysis, they must do so. Unclassified documents will be prepared and processed in accordance with the NEPA rules. 32 C.F.R. § 651.13(c)

If the Army is unable to develop a meaningful unclassified NEPA analysis, then they will form a team to review classified NEPA analysis. This interdisciplinary team will include environmental professionals to ensure that the consideration of environmental effects will be consistent with the purpose and intent of NEPA. 32 C.F.R. § 651.13(d)

Air Force

The Air Force must prepare and make available normal NEPA environmental analysis documents to assist in the decision-making process. However, Air Force staff must deal with these documents according to established procedures for protecting classified documents.

If an EIAP document must be classified, it may be modified and associated requirements for public notice or public involvement may be eliminated. However, the Air Force should obtain comments on classified proposed actions or classified aspects of generally unclassified actions, from public agencies having jurisdiction by law or special expertise, to the extent that such review and comment is consistent with security requirements. 32 C.F.R. § 989.26(a)

Where the proposed action is classified and unavailable to the public, the Air Force may keep the entire NEPA process classified and protected under the applicable procedures for the applicable classification level.

Where the proposed action is not classified, but certain aspects of it need to be protected by security classification, the EPF should tailor the EIAP for a proposed action to permit as normal a level of public involvement as possible, but also fully protect any classified portion of the action. 32 C.F.R. § 989.26(c)


Navy environmental documents must be prepared, safeguarded and disseminated in accordance with requirements applicable to classified information. When feasible, the documents must be organized in such a way that classified portions are included as appendices so that unclassified portions can be made available to the public. Review of classified NEPA documentation will be coordinated with the EPA to fulfill the requirements of NEPA. 32 C.F.R. § 775.5(a)

9-FD-f.12 to 9-FD-f.15 - Is the Project Categorically Excluded?

Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs) are categories of actions with no individual or cumulative effect on the human or natural environment, and for which neither an EA nor an EIS is required. The use of a CATEX is intended to reduce paperwork and eliminate delays in the initiation and completion of proposed actions that have no significant impact.

Each branch of the DOD maintains a list of actions that may qualify as a CATEX.


Categorical Exclusions that apply to certain Army actions are outlined in 32 C.F.R. § Appendix B to Part 651.

Army personnel seeking a CATEX must satisfy the following three screening conditions outlined in 32 C.F.R. § 651.29:

  • The action has not been segmented. Segmentation can occur when an action is broken down into small parts in order to avoid the appearance of significance of the total action. The scope of an action must include the consideration of connected, cumulative, and similar actions;
  • No exceptional circumstances exist. Determine if the action involves extraordinary circumstances that would preclude the use of a CATEX; and
  • One (or more) CATEX encompasses the proposed action. Identify a CATEX that potentially encompasses the proposed action. If no CATEX is appropriate, and the project is not exempted by statute or emergency provisions, an EA or an EIS must be prepared, before a proposed action may proceed.

The Army developer is required to produce a Record of Environmental Consideration (REC) following the use of a categorical exclusion. An REC is a signed statement submitted with project documentation which proves that an action has received environmental review. The REC briefly describes the proposed action and time frame, identifies the proponent and approving officials, and clearly shows how an action qualifies as a categorical exclusion or is already covered in an existing EA or EIS. 32 C.F.R. § 651.19.

Air Force

Categorical Exclusions that apply to certain Air Force actions are outlined in 32 C.F.R. § Appendix B to Part 989.13.

Characteristics of categories of Air Force actions that usually do not require either an EIS or an EA (in the absence of extraordinary circumstances) include:

  • Minimal adverse effect on environmental quality;
  • No significant change to existing environmental conditions;
  • No significant cumulative environmental impact;
  • Socioeconomic effects only; and
  • Similarity to actions previously assessed and found to have no significant environmental impacts.

Any decision-making level may determine the applicability of a CATEX and need not formally record the determination on AF Form 813.


Categorical Exclusions that apply to certain Navy actions are outlined in 32 C.F.R. § 775.6(f).

Appropriate Navy personnel must determine whether a decision to forego preparation of an EA or EIS on the basis of a categorical exclusion must be documented in an administrative record and the format for such record. 32 C.F.R. § 775.6(f)

9-FD-f.16 to 9-FD-f.18 - Is the Proposed Activity Covered by an Existing NEPA Document?

Any activity that has previously been subject to NEPA review does not need to undergo further analysis. However, if significant changes are made to a continuing activity that has already been subject to review further environmental review may be necessary.


The Army is required to produce a Record of Environmental Consideration if it is determined that an action is adequately covered by an existing NEPA document. An REC is a signed statement submitted with project documentation that briefly documents that an action has received environmental review. The REC briefly describes the proposed action and time frame, identifies the proponent and approving officials, and clearly shows how an action qualifies as a categorical exclusion or is already covered in an existing EA or EIS. 32 C.F.R. § 651.19.

Air Force

The Air Force may adopt another EA or EIS where the proposed action is substantially the same as the action described in the EA or EIS. In that case, the EA or EIS must be recirculated as a final EA or EIS but the Air Force must independently review the documents and determine that they are current and satisfy the requirements of Air Force regulations. 32 C.F.R. § 989.9

9-FD-f.19 – Initiate Environmental Assessment Procedure

The DOD branch will develop an EA to assist agency planning and decision-making. An EA is required to assess environmental impacts and evaluate their significance, it is also used as a planning document to evaluate environmental impacts, develop alternatives and mitigation measures, and allow for public participation in the process. 32 C.F.R. § 651.20

9-FD-f.20 – Develop Plan of Public Involvement


To ensure full public involvement in the EA process, a plan to include all interested or affected parties should be developed at the beginning of the analysis and documentation process. Open communication with the public is encouraged as a matter of Army policy, and the degree of public involvement varies. Appropriate public notice of the availability of the completed EA/draft FONSI must be made. 32 C.F.R. § 651.36(e)

The plan will include the following:

  • Dissemination of information to the local and installation communities;
  • Invitation and incorporation of public comments on Army actions; and
  • Consultation with appropriate persons and agencies.

Air Force

The Air Force has developed a list of activities that specifically require public notification in 32 C.F.R. § 989.24(b); these activities include:

  • An EA and FONSI;
  • An EIS NOI;
  • Public scoping meetings;
  • Availability of the draft EIS;
  • Public hearings on the draft EIS;
  • Availability of the final EIS; and
  • The ROD for an EIS.


The Navy command Public Affairs Office will provide assistance with developing and implementing a plan of public participation. In determining the extent to which public participation is practicable, the following should be considered:

  • The magnitude of the environmental considerations associated with the proposed action;
  • The extent of anticipated public interest; and
  • Any relevant questions of national security and classification.

9-FD-f.21 - Environmental Assessment (EA)


An EA is intended to assist agency planning and decision-making. While required to assess environmental impacts and evaluate their significance, it is routinely used as a planning document to evaluate environmental impacts, develop alternatives and mitigation measures, and allow for agency and public participation. 32 C.F.R. § 651.20. The EA:

  • Briefly provides the decision maker with sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether a FNSI or an EIS should be prepared.
  • Assures compliance with NEPA, if an EIS is not required and a CX is inappropriate.
  • Facilitates preparation of an EIS, if required.
  • Includes brief discussions of the need for the proposed action, alternatives to the proposed action, environmental impacts and a listing of persons and agencies consulted.

Air Force

The Air Force EA format may be the same as the EIS. This is allowed to facilitate easy transition to an EIS should one be required. 32 C.F.R. § 989.14(e).

The Headquarters of the Air Force may request that the EA be forwarded to them for approval. HQ approval will be requested in cases potentially involving a high degree of controversy or Air Force-wide concern. 32 C.F.R. § 989.14(i).


The Navy defines an Environmental Assessment as a concise document prepared according to NEPA requirements that briefly provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an EIS. An EA aids compliance with NEPA when no EIS is necessary and facilitates preparation of an EIS when one is necessary. 32 C.F.R. § 775.2(c)

9-FD-f.22 to 9-FD-f.23 - Notice of Availability (NOA)

The NOA is published by the DOD Branch to inform the public that a NEPA document is available for review. A NOA will be published in the Federal Register, coordinating with EPA for draft and final EISs, for RODs, and for EAs and FONSIs which are of national concern, are unprecedented, or normally require an EIS. Unless the document is especially long, the appropriate comment period is 30 days.

9-FD-f.24 to 9-FD-f.26 – Does the Proposed Action Require an EIS?

The EA will result in either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Following the EA process, if it is determined that an EIS may be appropriate, then the EIS procedure must be initiated. 32 C.F.R. § 775.6.

9-FD-f.27 - Notice of Intent (NOI)

The DOD branches are required to file a Notice of Intent to give congressional notification of intent to draft an Environmental Impact Statement.


The NOI initiates the formal scoping process and must be prepared pursuant to 32 C.F.R. § 651.22 The NOI is a public notice that an EIS will be prepared. The NOI will briefly:

  • Describe the proposed and alternative action;
  • Describe the proposed scoping process, including when and where any public meetings will be held; and
  • State the name and address of the point of contact that can answer questions on the proposed action and the EIS.

Air Force

The EPF must furnish a NOI describing the proposed action for congressional notification and publication in the Federal Register.

9-FD-f.28 – Conduct Scoping Analysis

The scoping process is intended to aid in determining the scope of the analyses and significant issues related to the proposed action. The process requires appropriate public participation immediately following publication of the NOI in the Federal Register. 32 C.F.R. § 775.8

When the planning for a project or action indicates the need for an EIS, the DOD branch initiates a scoping process to identify the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts for consideration in the EIS. The policy is that EISs for legislative proposals significantly affecting the environment will go through scoping unless extenuating circumstances make it impractical.


The Army scoping phase of the NEPA process, as part of project planning, will identify aspects of the proposal that are likely to have an effect or be controversial; and will ensure that the NEPA analyses are useful for a decision maker. 32 C.F.R. § 651.14(d)

The extent of the Army scoping process will depend on these factors:

  • The size and type of the proposed action;
  • Whether the proposed action is of regional or national interest;
  • Degree of any associated environmental controversy;
  • Size of the affected environmental parameters;
  • Significance of any effects on them;
  • Extent of prior environmental review;
  • Involvement of any substantive time limits;
  • Requirements by other laws for environmental review; and
  • Cumulative impacts.

Air Force

The EPF must initiate the public scoping process after publication of the NOI for an EIS. The Air Force may conduct scoping through soliciting written comments or conducting public scoping meetings. The scoping process is a proactive process of communicating with individual citizens, neighborhood, community, and local leaders, public interest groups, congressional delegations, state, Tribal, and local governments, and federal agencies. 32 C.F.R. § 989.18(a)

The EPF must send scripts for scoping meetings to Air Force Headquarters no later than 30 days before the first scoping meeting.

When the EPF anticipates that the proposed action and its alternatives will have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations or low-income populations, special efforts must be made to reach these populations. This might include special informational meetings or notices in minority and low-income areas concerning the regular scoping process. 32 C.F.R. § 989.18(b)


Navy personnel are required to initiate an open scoping process as soon as practicable after the decision to prepare an EIS is made. Scoping results in the identification by the Navy developer of the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered in the EIS. For any action, this scope may depend on the relationship of the proposed action to other existing environmental documentation. 32 C.F.R. § 775.8

9-FD-f.29 – Did Scoping Reveal a Significant Environmental Impact?

The Army and the Air Force have developed lists of certain actions and environmental impacts that normally require preparation of an EIS.


The following Army actions normally require an EIS:

  • Significant expansion of a military facility or installation;
  • Construction of facilities that have a significant effect on wetlands, coastal zones, or other areas of critical environmental concern;
  • The disposal of nuclear materials, munitions, explosives, industrial and military chemicals, and other hazardous or toxic substances that have the potential to cause significant environmental impact;
  • Land acquisition, leasing, or other actions that may lead to significant changes in land use;
  • Realignment or stationing of a brigade or larger table of organization equipment (TOE) unit during peacetime (except where the only significant impacts are socioeconomic, with no significant biophysical environmental impact);
  • Training exercises conducted outside the boundaries of an existing military reservation where significant environmental damage might occur; and
  • Major changes in the mission or facilities either affecting environmentally sensitive resources or causing significant environmental impact. 32 C.F.R. § 651.42

Air Force

Impacts normally requiring an EIS include:

  • Potential for significant degradation of the environment;
  • Potential for significant threat or hazard to public health and safety; and
  • Substantial environmental controversy concerning the significance or nature of the environmental impact of a proposed action. 32 C.F.R. § 989.16(a)

Certain other actions normally, but not always, require an EIS include:

  • Public land withdrawals of over 5,000 acres;
  • Establishment of new air-to-ground weapons ranges;
  • Site selection of new airfields;
  • Site selection of major installations;
  • Development of certain major new weapons systems;
  • Establishing or expanding supersonic training areas over land below 30,000 feet mean sea level; and
  • Disposal and reuse of closing installations. 32 C.F.R. § 989.16(b)

9-FD-f.30 to 9-FD-f.32 – Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

The FONSI is a document that briefly states why an action (not otherwise excluded) will not significantly affect the environment, and thus does not require an EIS. It summarizes the EA. The draft FONSI will be made available to the public for review and comment for 30 days prior to the initiation of an action. Following the comment period, the decision maker signs the FONSI, and the action can proceed.


An Army FONSI includes a summary of the EA and notes any related NEPA documentation. The draft FONSI will be made available to the public for review and comment for 30 days prior to the initiation of an action, except in special cases when the public comment period is reduced to 15 days. After the comment period and review of public comments, the decision package must be forwarded to the decision maker. The decision maker reviews the package, makes a decision, and signs the FONSI. If the FONSI is signed by the decision maker, the action can proceed immediately. 32 C.F.R. § 651.21

Air Force

The Air Force rules demand that FONSIs be as brief as possible, and explain that only rarely are they to exceed two typed pages. The EPF must make the EA and unsigned FONSI available to the affected public and organizations and individuals requesting them, unless disclosure is prevented due to classification.

Before the FONSI is signed and the action implemented, the EPF should allow time to receive comments from the public. The time period will reflect the magnitude of the proposed action and its potential for controversy. The greater the magnitude of the proposed action, or its potential for controversy, the longer the time that must be allowed for public review. 32 C.F.R. § 989.15(e)

If the EA is not incorporated by reference, the FONSI must include:

  • Name of the action;
  • Brief description of the action (including alternatives considered and the chosen alternative);
  • Conclusions leading to the FONSI; and
  • All mitigation actions that will be adopted with implementation of the proposal.

In certain circumstances, the EA and unsigned FONSI are made available for public review for at least 30 days before FONSI approval:

  • When the proposed action is, or is closely similar to, one that usually requires preparation of an EIS;
  • If it is an unusual case, a new kind of action, or a precedent-setting case in terms of its potential environmental impacts;
  • If the proposed action would be located in a floodplain or wetland;
  • If the action is mitigated to insignificance in the FONSI, in lieu of an EIS;
  • If the proposed action is a change to airspace use or designation; and
  • If the proposed action would have a disproportionately high and adverse environmental effect on minority populations and low-income populations.

9-FD-f.33 – Initiate Environmental Impact Statement Procedure

Following the EA process, if it is determined that an EIS may be appropriate, the EIS procedure must be initiated.

9-FD-f.34 to 9-FD-f.36 – Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The format of the EIS must comply with the requirements outlined in CEQ regulations. The CEQ regulations indicate that EISs should normally be less than 150 pages.


The Army developer must prepare a draft EIS based on information obtained and decisions made during the scoping process. The draft will be internally reviewed by Army headquarters before being forwarded to appropriate agencies, including the EPA. 32 C.F.R. § 651.45(d).

The Army developer must provide a public comment period for the draft EIS of at least 45 days. If the statement is unusually long, a summary of the draft EIS may be circulated, but it must contain an attached list of locations where the entire draft EIS may be reviewed. 32 C.F.R. § 651.45(e).

Air Force

The Air Force developer must prepare a draft EIS based on the scope of issues decided on during the scoping process. The draft EIS will be reviewed internally by Air Force headquarters before outside review begins. Air Force headquarters must notify the EPF to print sufficient copies of the draft for distribution to congressional delegations and interested agencies at least 7 calendar days before the publication of the NOA in the Federal Register. 32 C.F.R. § 989.19(b).

The Air Force developer must provide a public comment period for the draft EIS of at least 45 days starting from the publication date of the Notice of Availability of the draft EIS in the Federal Register. 32 C.F.R. § 989.19(c).

9-FD-f.37 to 9-FD-f.39 – Review Draft EIS


Army Headquarters conducts an internal review of the draft EIS before it is forwarded to relevant agencies and congressional groups. Following Headquarters approval, the draft will be distributed to the remainder on the distribution list. The draft must be distributed prior to, or simultaneously with, filing with the EPA. The distribution list includes federal, state, regional, and local agencies, private citizens, and local organizations. 32 C.F.R. § 651.45(d)(2)(i).

The Army developer must incorporate any comments into the draft EIS through modification of the text and/or written explanation.

Air Force

Air Force Headquarters is the first to review any draft EIS. Copies of the draft EIS are then sent to congressional delegations, interested agencies, and any others on the distribution list. After all necessary distributions are made, Air Force HQ files the draft EIS with the EPA for review.

The EPF must incorporate any necessary changes in the final EIS. They must also include any responses to comments on the draft EIS. 32 C.F.R. § 989.19(d). The EPF may, at any time during the EIS process, seek additional public comments, such as when there is a significant change in circumstances. Any additional comment period requested must last for 30 days. 32 C.F.R. § 989.19(e).

9-FD-f.40 to 9-FD-f.44 – Final Environmental Impact Statement


The Army is required to produce a Record of Decision following approval of the final EIS. A ROD is a signed statement submitted with project documentation that briefly documents that an action has received environmental review. The ROD is a public document summarizing the findings and the basis for the decision. The ROD must identify mitigations which reduce otherwise significant impacts, and ensure that appropriate monitoring procedures are implemented. 32 C.F.R. § 651.26

The Army developer must prepare a ROD for the decision maker’s signature, which will:

  • Clearly state the decision by describing it in sufficient detail to address the significant issues and ensure necessary long-term monitoring and execution;
  • Identify all alternatives considered in reaching the decision, specifying the environmentally preferred alternatives;
  • Identify and discuss all such factors, including any essential considerations of national policy that were balanced by the Army in making its decision;
  • Discuss how those considerations entered into the final decision;
  • State whether all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the selected alternative have been adopted, and if not, why they were not; and
  • Identify or incorporate by reference the mitigation measures that were incorporated into the decision.

The ROD must be distributed to agencies with authority or oversight over aspects of the proposal, cooperating agencies, appropriate congressional, state, and district offices, all parties directly affected, and others upon request.

Air Force

The Air Force developer must develop a ROD stating their decision and the basis for it. The ROD must be concise and should explain the conclusion, the reason for the selection, and the alternatives considered. The ROD should summarize all the major factors the agency weighed in making its decision, including essential considerations of national policy.

If changes in the draft EIS are minor or limited to factual corrections and responses to comments, the developer and EPF may prepare a document containing only comments on the draft EIS. 32 C.F.R. § 989.20(a)

The Air Force must process the final EIS in the same way as the draft EIS, except that the public need not be invited to comment during the 30-day post-filing waiting period. The Air Force must provide the final EIS to every person, organization, or agency that made substantive comments on the draft EIS or requested a copy. The EPF processes all necessary supplements to EISs in the same way as the original draft EIS and final EIS, except that a new scoping process is not required. 32 C.F.R. § 989.20(a)

A decision on a course of action may not be made until the later of the following dates:

  • 90 days after publication of the draft EIS; or
  • 30 days after publication of the NOA of the final EIS in the Federal Register.

The Air Force must announce the ROD to the affected public, except for classified portions. The ROD must identify the course of action that is considered environmentally preferable regardless of whether it is the alternative selected for implementation. The ROD must state whether the selected alternative employs all practicable means to avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts and, if not, explain why not.


The Navy is required to develop a ROD which sets out a concise summary of the final decision and selected measures for mitigation (if any) of adverse environmental impacts of the alternative chosen from those considered in an EIS.

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