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NEPA / SEPA Guidance

Making sure that a project has completed all the necessary environmental procedures is a challenge. Chapter 400 of the Environmental Manual (EM) describes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and explain other environmental policy.

The information on this page is designed for a technical audience.

New Requirements

  • 2015 CE Programmatic Agreement (pdf 89 kb) with FHWA allows WSDOT to approve all CE NEPA documentation for FHWA funded projects.  (March 2015).
  • FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Agreement was signed by Lynn Peterson and Dan Mathis on March 3, 2015.
  • Air Quality -- EPA published new guidance on the use of MOVES2014 for completing carbon monoxide (CO) hot-spot analysis for transportation projects.  During the grace period that ends October 7, 2016, a MOVES2010 version can still be used for CO hot-spot analyses. (March, 2015)
  • FHWA issues order on climate change directing agencies to consider extreme weather risks in all planning, operations, policies and programs.  New guidance and tools will be posted on the FHWA Climate Change web page. (Jan 2015).
  • CEQ Issues FINAL Guidance on Programmatic NEPA ReviewsThe 50 page guidance document is intended to assist agencies prepare programmatic EA/EIS level documents describing "broad, landscape-scale analysis of proposals that affect the resources they manage".  (December 2014).
  • CEQ Updates Draft Guidance on NEPA Greenhouse Gas Evaluations.  Agencies should consider climate impact of any action the would increase greenhouse gas emissions by  25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.  (December 2014).
  • FTA issues final guidance for early ROW acquisition in the Federal Register.  (November 2014). 
  • DOT issues final guidance for combining the FEIS and ROD.  The guidance requires early coordination with lead agency and legal sufficiency review.  (November 2014).

Scope your Project

During the Project Scoping phase, WSDOT staff define projects by entering information into the WSDOT Project Summary Database. This process defines the purpose and need for the project, identifies and evaluates alternatives, and documents the overall scope and cost of the project. This information allows WSDOT and the legislature to prioritize projects for funding.

For scoping permits, go to the Federal, State, and Local Permits web pages. 

Documenting Environmental Impacts

Each category of NEPA and SEPA has its own compliance path.  The links below detail how to assess impacts, ensure document quality, and comply with procedural requirements.  

Process Guidance

  • ECS/SEPA Checklist ShareDot database - This database allows WSDOT staff to complete SEPA documents and NEPA CEs and DCEs. This database is available to WSDOT employees only and can be accessed from the WSDOT Intranet Environment page.
  • FTA adopts new rule defining CE/DCE projects - 23 CFR 771.117 replaced by 23 CFR 771.118
  • FHWA and FTA have issued a joint final rule to revise emergency CEs under 23 CFR 771.117 (c) (9). FTA Emergency CEs (pdf 58 kb).
  • NEPA documentation roles and responsibilities (pdf 149 kb) this table describes WSDOT Region, WSDOT HQ, and FHWA roles and responsibilities during the NEPA documentation process.
  • QA/QC Guidance and Templates (pdf 2.16 mb) -- design quality into your process.
  • EA Process -- this web page gives step by step guidance for writing an EA form Project Initiation to FONSI.
  • EIS Process -- this web page gives step by step guidance for writing an EIS from Project Initiation to ROD.
  • SEPA Process -- this web page gives step by step guidance for state environmental documentation procedures.
  • Environmental Document Distribution Table (pdf 31 kb)- table listing the required number and type of copies for distribution.

Assess Impacts

Finalize and Approve