- OUR PLANNING RULE
- NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA)
Our Planning Rule
Congress specified the Mitigation Commission’s program to focus on four key factors. The program should employ:
- An Ecosystem Approach
- Public Involvement
- Measures Based on Best Available Scientific Knowledge
The Central Utah Project Completion Act of 1992 also directed that the planning process be guided by priorities established by the Commission. A Planning Rule was developed, based on Congressional direction, to refine the Commission’s process of developing the Mitigation Plan and providing information to other agencies and the public regarding how they might participate. The planning process involves three steps: solicitation, evaluation and public review. More information on these steps is found in our Mitigation and Conservation Plan.
The Plan as a Budget Tool
The Mitigation Plan does not constitute a commitment of resources for any given project. The commitment to expend resources is dependent upon Congressional appropriation, and following this, Commission approval of specific projects. The Commission relies on the Mitigation Plan as the primary source of information for developing the Commission’s annual budget request. Once the budget request is formulated and submitted to Congress, the request may be altered or reformulated by Congress before the appropriation statute is approved. The appropriation statute will then establish funding levels for Mitigation Plan implementation.
A Mitigation and Conservation Plan is published yearly; however the types of changes made on a yearly basis vary. The Mitigation Plan is intended to be a dynamic guide that will be amended to reflect changing conditions. The Commission recognizes three distinct types of plan amendments: comprehensive revisions, substantive revisions and technical revisions. In addition, the public also has an opportunity to request amendments to the Mitigation Plan in the form of a public petition. Refer to the Mitigation and Conservation Plan for more information on plan amendments.
The Commission will contact agencies, groups and individuals who submit proposals within the scope of Mitigation Plan program elements and provide them with an opportunity to participate in the development of specific project agreements (that contain detailed scopes of work and budgets) through which the Commission implements the Plan. Agreements are presented at public Commission meetings for approval.
Partnerships are important in moving projects forward, and the Commission generally gives priority to cost-share partners. Cost-sharing can be contributions of funds, in-kind staff time, and/or long-term operation and maintenance responsibility and funding.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, was passed by Congress to promote informed decision-making. The Commission is required to apply the NEPA process whenever it proposes an action, for example the Provo River Restoration Project, that may have an affect on the environment. While it is a federal requirement, the Commission also regards NEPA as a useful planning tool. The NEPA process, involving five steps, is a logical approach to problem solving that involves the public. Steps are as follows:
- Develop a statement as to project Purpose and Need - “Why Here, Why Now?”
- Develop an initial Proposed Action that addresses the Purpose and Need
- Interested publics are contacted for their Issues or concerns about the Proposed Action
- Alternatives to the Proposed Action are developed that still meet project Purpose and Need, but also address Issues
- All alternatives are evaluated for Environmental Affects
This five step process is documented in either an environmental impact statement (EIS), environmental assessment (EA) or categorical exclusion (CX). An EIS is required when the Commission anticipates a proposed action may have significant effects. An EA is prepared when there are no significant effects. A CX is prepared when effects are minimal.
The Commission uses the EIS, EA, or CX analysis to make their decision. This decision is documented in a record of decision, if based on an EIS; a finding of no significant impact, if based on an EA; and in a categorical exclusion checklist, if a CX.