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Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Preparation and Filing

MEPA Review may result in the issuance of a Certificate with a Scope for a Single Environmental Impact Review (SEIR), Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as well as a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report.

Table of Contents

IMPORTANT UPDATE CONCERNING MEPA OPERATIONS

The MEPA Office is continuing to operate remotely and only project submittals and other correspondence that are submitted electronically will be accepted during this time. Additional information regarding submission of MEPA filings, including an Electronic Distribution List, may be found here and supersedes the hard copy filing and distribution requirements identified below. 

Preparing an EIR

Typical EIR comment and review periods are 37 days

The EIR should respond to the Scope laid out in the most recent Certificate and as directed by 11.07(6) of the MEPA regulations. The EIR shall

  • reflect the status of project planning and design
  • the type and size of the project
  • the requirements of any agency action
  • the availability of reasonable alternatives and methods to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts, and
  • asses measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts, and identify measures the Proponent will commit to.

EIR Filing Requirements

Below is a brief outline of the sections that should be included in an EIR filing. Please consult the MEPA Regulations (301 CMR 11.07(6)) for more detail on each section.

  • Title Page: Name & location of project, EEA File Number, Type of EIR, Name of Proponent, Name of preparer, and Date of filing.
  • Table of Contents: Title and page number of all sections, maps, plans, tables, figures, and appendices of the EIR
  • Secretary's certificates: A copy of each Secretary's Certificate issued for the Project
  • Summary: A brief description in clear, nontechnical language including name and location of the Project, EEA File Number, brief Project description, list of any Permit, Financial Assistance, or Land Transfer,summary of alternatives, summary of potential environmental impacts,  and mitigation measures for the Project.
  • Project Description: A detailed description and analysis of the nature and location of the Project.
  • Alternatives to the Project: A description and analysis of alternatives to the Project
  • Existing Environment: A description and analysis of the physical, biological, chemical, economic, and social conditions of the Project site, its immediate surroundings, and the region.
  • Assessment of Impacts: A detailed description and assessment of the negative and positive potential environmental impacts of the Project and its alternatives.
  • Statutory and Regulatory Standards and Requirements: A list of any Permit, Financial Assistance, or Land Transfer that is or may be required, and the applicable statutory and regulatory standards.
  • Mitigation Measures: A description and assessment of physical, biological and chemical measures and management techniques designed to limit negative environmental impacts or to cause positive environmental impacts during development and operation of the Project.
  • Proposed Section 61 Findings: Proposed findings in accordance with M.G.L. c. 30, section 61 for each Agency for each Agency Action to be taken on the Project.
  • Response to Comments: A response to the certificate of the Secretary on the previous review document and each comment received on the previous review document, provided that the subject matter of the comment is within the Scope.
  • Appendices: A presentation of detailed technical data (e.g., traffic analyses, hydrologic calculations, modeling data), to the extent necessary to keep the main text of the EIR clear and readable.

The Proponent may vary the outline of ordinary EIR sections to address one aspect of the project or issue at a time, provided that the EIR addresses the substance of each section.

Environmental Justice

Effective January 1, 2022, all new MEPA projects located in “Designated Geographic Areas” (defined in 301 CMR 11.02) around EJ populations are required to submit an EIR as set forth in 301 CMR 11.06(7)(b). A “Designated Geographic Area” is defined as the area within one mile of the project or EJ population; or, for a project that meets or exceeds MEPA review thresholds at 301 CMR 11.03(8)(a) and (b) or that generates 150 or more New adt of diesel vehicle traffic over a duration of one year or more, excluding public transit trips, the area within five miles of the project or EJ population.

For these projects, the EIR must contain, in addition to the elements specified under “EIR Filing Requirements,” the following items specified in 301 CMR 11.07(6)(n), based on the methodology set forth in the MEPA Interim Protocol for Analysis of Project Impacts on Environmental Justice Populations:

  1. statements about the results of an assessment of any existing unfair or inequitable Environmental Burden and related public health consequences impacting the Environmental Justice Population from any prior or current private, industrial, commercial, state, or municipal operation or project that has caused or continues to cause Damage to the Environment;
  2. if the assessment conducted under 301 CMR 11.07(6)(n)1. indicates that an Environmental Justice Population is subject to an existing unfair or inequitable Environmental Burden or related health consequence:

    1. a description of the environmental and public health impact from the Project that would likely result in a disproportionate adverse effect on such population; and

    2. any potential impact or consequence from the Project that would increase or reduce the effects of climate change on the Environmental Justice Population.

  3. ​​​​description of alternatives and measures to avoid, or, if unavoidable, to minimize and mitigate potential environmental and public health impacts so as to address any identified disproportionate adverse effects, or an increase in the effects of climate change, on Environmental Justice Populations;
  4. Proposed Section 61 Findings that include any and all actions to be taken to address any identified disproportionate adverse effects, or an increase in the effects of climate change, on Environmental Justice Populations, so as to reduce the potential for unfair or inequitable effects on such Environmental Justice Populations; and

  5. Response to Comments to the extent related to an assessment of disproportionate adverse effects, or an increase in the effects of climate change, on Environmental Justice Populations.

For any project seeking to qualify in its entirety as an “Ecological Restoration Project” under the Wetlands Protection Act and implementing regulations at 310 CMR 10.00, the analysis required in Part II-IV of the MEPA Interim Protocol for Analysis of Project Impacts on Environmental Justice Populations can be provided in a checklist format as described in the Protocol.

Projects required to submit an EIR under 301 CMR 11.06(7)(b) may request that the Secretary allow a Single EIR under 301 CMR 11.06(8) or a Rollover EIR under 301 CMR 11.06(13); however, they are not eligible to seek a Full Waiver from the requirement to file an EIR.

Rollover (or "Proposed") EIR

If the Proponent chooses to submit an EENF with a request that the Secretary allow a Rollover EIR in accordance with 301 CMR 11.06(13), the EENF must be accompanied by a Proposed EIR following the form and content of 301 CMR 11.07(6) that describes and analyzes the project and its alternatives, assesses its potential environmental and public health impacts and mitigation measures, and contains the full EJ analysis required in 301 CMR 11.07(6)(n), using the methodology set forth in the MEPA Interim Protocol for Analysis of Project Impacts on Environmental Justice Populations. If the rollover request is granted, the Proposed EIR would then be published as a Final EIR in a subsequent Environmental Monitor in lieu of the typical two-stage Draft and Final EIR process. Alternatively, the Secretary could require the Proponent to file responses to comments on the Proposed EIR together with Proposed Section 61 Findings, and direct that the responses and findings shall be filed, circulated, and reviewed as a Final EIR in a subsequent Environmental Monitor.

In order to allow a Rollover EIR, the Secretary must find that the dual EENF and Proposed EIR:

  1. presents a complete and definitive description and analysis of the Project and its alternatives, and an assessment of its potential environmental and public health impacts and mitigation measures sufficient to allow a Participating Agency to fulfill its obligations in accordance with M.G.L. c. 30, §§ 61 and 62K and 301 CMR 11.12(5);
  2. demonstrates that the Project will not materially exacerbate any existing unfair or inequitable Environmental Burden and related public health consequences impacting an EJ population, and will not result in a disproportionate adverse effect or increased climate change effects on an EJ population;
  3. describes measures taken to provide meaningful opportunities for public involvement by EJ populations prior to filing the dual ENF and Proposed EIR, including any changes made to the Project to address concerns raised by or on behalf of EJ populations;
  4. shows that comments received on the dual ENF and Proposed EIR do not raise substantial issues not previously considered by the Proponent; and
  5. shows that no substantive issues remain to be resolved.

EIR Circulation

As is reasonably possible based on the status of project planning and design, type and size of the project, EIRs should be filed soon after issuance of the Secretary's Certificate and Scope. Prior to or when filing the EIR with the Secretary, the Proponent shall circulate copies of the EIR as follows:

  • Two copies to the MEPA Office (inclusion of an additional electronic copy preferred)
  • One copy to each person or agency who commented on the ENF and to any other entity identified by the Secretary in the scope
  • A copy to any person or agency  requesting it during the comment period.

 

Public Comment and Review Period

Anyone may submit public comments on an EIR  within thirty (30) days of publication of the availability of the EIR in Environmental Monitor. Please note that the public comment period on a DEIR may be extended on account of the Proponent's failure to meet circulation requirements, with the consent of the Proponent, or as part of a Special Review Procedure (SRP). Comment periods on a SEIR or FEIR may not be extended.

Within seven (7) days after the close of the public comment period, the Secretary will issue a certificate stating whether or not the EIR adequately complies with MEPA. If an EIR is determined to be inadequate, the Proponent will be required to file a supplemental EIR (draft, final, or single EIR).

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