MEPA review of a project is initiated through the preparation and filing of an Environmental Notification Form (ENF). This guide provides guidelines for preparing and filing an ENF.
Guide Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Preparation and Filing
Table of Contents
Preparing an ENF
Prior to filing the ENF, the Proponent may consult with the MEPA Office and any participating agencies to determine any review thresholds the project may meet or exceed and any potential Agency Action it may require. The Proponent may also schedule a pre-filing meeting with the MEPA Office to discuss how to address standard filing requirements and unique aspects of a project.
The ENF submittal should include a completed ENF which clearly identifies the MEPA review thresholds that the project meets or exceeds and any Agency Actions that it may require. All sections of the ENF form should be completed. Supplemental pages and/or footnotes to tables may be used to clarify aspects of the project.
The ENF should include a supporting project narrative with a detailed project description, an alternatives analysis, evaluation of potential environmental impacts, and a description of mitigation measures. Supporting studies or technical analyses may be appended to the ENF or provided as attachments.We strongly encourage providing electronic copies of supporting studies or technical analyses.
The alternatives analysis is a significant component of MEPA review. The alternatives analysis should identify the project purpose and criteria for selecting the preferred alternative. The alternatives analysis should clearly identify the environmental impacts associated with each alternative. Examples of alternatives include, but are not limited to, alternative site locations, site uses, site/building configurations, and construction methodologies. The alternatives analysis and project narrative should support the selection of the Preferred Alternative and ensure that the project avoids, minimizes, and mitigates environmental impacts to the maximum extent feasible.
The ENF should also address consistency with relevant Executive Orders and EEA Policies as applicable.
A link to helpful resources when filing an ENF can be found below.
Filing and Circulation Requirements
The following must be included with your submittal to the MEPA Office:
- Original signed ENF
- One copy of the original signed ENF
- First three pages of the ENF (including project summary, to be posted in the Environmental Monitor)
- One electronic copy of the signed ENF
- The Following Attachments:
- List or table of contents which identifies all attachments
- U.S.G.S. map (good quality color copy, 8-½ x 11 inches or larger, at a scale of 1:24,000) indicating the project location and boundaries.
- Plan, at an appropriate scale, of existing conditions on the project site and its immediate environs, showing all known structures, roadways and parking lots, railroad rights-of-way, wetlands and water bodies, wooded areas, farmland, steep slopes, public open spaces, and major utilities.
- Plan, at an appropriate scale for size of project, depicting environmental constraints on or adjacent to the project site such as Priority and/or Estimated Habitat of state-listed rare species, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Chapter 91 jurisdictional areas, Article 97 lands, wetland resource area delineations, water supply protection areas, and historic resources and/or districts.
- Plan, at an appropriate scale, of proposed conditions upon completion of project (if construction of the project is proposed to be phased, there should be a site plan showing conditions upon the completion of each phase).
- MEPA Electronic Distribution List: List of all agencies and persons to whom the proponent circulated the ENF, in accordance with 301 CMR 11.16(2).
- List of municipal and federal permits and reviews required by the project, as applicable.
The Proponent must publish a notice in a newspaper notice to be Published no more than 30 days before submittal. Publication should be in a newspaper of local circulation in each municipality affected by the Project, or in a newspaper of statewide circulation if the an affected municipality is not served by a local population.
- Have you published a notice of the ENF filing in local newspaper?
- The Proponent must certify compliance with the public notice requirements in the in the ENF Certification Section, identify the name of the newspaper(s) and the date the notice will be published. The public notice should be published on or before the Environmental Monitor publication date (up to 30 days beforehand).
At the time that the ENF is submitted to the Secretary, the project proponent must distribute the ENF to state and municipal agencies in accordance with 301 CMR 11.16(2) and to the MEPA Office:
Attn: MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Public Comment and Review Period
The publication of the project in the Environmental Monitor begins the 20-day public comment period. Once a project has been published, an Environmental Analyst will be assigned to review the project and will typically schedule a site visit. The date, time and location of the site visit will be published in the Environmental Monitor.
The comment period of an ENF can be extended at the Proponent's request and subject to the Secretary's approval.
Within 10 days of the close of the comment period, the Secretary will issue a Certificate on the ENF stating whether or not an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required and, if so, identify the scope of the EIR.
The 2020 Environmental Monitor Publication Schedule contains submission dates, comment deadlines and decision due dates.
Preparing an Expanded ENF (EENF)
An Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) must be submitted when the Proponent is requesting that the Secretary allow a Single Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) or grant a Full or Phase 1 Waiver from the requirement to file a Mandatory EIR. In addition to a completed ENF and the required attachments (e.g. a project description, supporting data detailing potential environmental impacts, etc.), an Expanded ENF (EENF) must include more extensive and detailed information that describes and analyzes a proposed project and its alternatives and assesses its potential environmental impacts and environmental mitigation measures. The filing and circulation requirements for an EENF are the same as for an ENF. An EENF is subject to an extended 37-day review period, consisting of a 30-day comment period and 7 days to issue a Certificate.
The MEPA Office recommends scheduling a pre-filing meeting prior to filing an EENF with a request for a Full Waiver, Phase 1 Waiver, SEIR, or Special Review Procedure (SRP). These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss specific or unique aspects of a project, how to address standard filing requirements at a level commensurate with an EENF, and to highlight the specific criteria for a Waiver that must be adhered to in the EENF.
Request for Single EIR
For projects subject to a Mandatory EIR, the Proponent may submit an EENF with a request that the Secretary allow a Single EIR to be submitted in lieu of the typical two-stage Draft and Final EIR process pursuant to Section 11.06(8) of the MEPA regulations.
In addition to the items listed on the ENF form, an EENF requesting a Single EIR should contain: a formal request that the Secretary allow a Single EIR; a greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis; and an extensive and detailed narrative that address the findings that the Secretary must consider when determining whether to grant the request for a Single EIR per Section 11.06(8) of the MEPA regulations. The EENF must:
- describe and analyze all aspects of the Project and all feasible alternatives, regardless of any jurisdictional or other limitation that may apply to the Scope;
- provide a detailed baseline in relation to which potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures can be assessed; and
- demonstrate that the planning and design of the Project use all feasible means to avoid potential environmental impacts.
Requesting a Waiver
The MEPA Regulations include provisions to streamline project review. These include provisions at 301 CMR 11.11 which allow the Secretary to waive the requirement to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or to allow a phase of a project to proceed prior to completion of MEPA review for the entire project (301 CMR 11.11).
A request for a waiver requires that the Proponent provide more information at the initiation of MEPA review through preparation and submission of an Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF). Any request for a waiver is subject to an extended review period, including a 30-day public comment period. The EENF must include:
- a formal request that the Secretary consider granting a waiver
- address the regulatory criteria for granting a waiver
- provide a detailed project description, information on baseline environmental conditions and an alternatives analysis
- identify measures the Proponent will take to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts; and,
- include a greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis in accordance with the MEPA GHG Policy and Protocol.
Standards for all Waiver Requests
A Waiver may be granted if the Secretary finds that strict compliance with the EIR provision or requirement would:
- result in an undue hardship for the Proponent, unless based on delay in compliance by the Proponent; and
- not serve to avoid or minimize Damage to the Environment.
Standards for a Phase 1 Waiver
A request for a Phase 1 waiver must also address the following standards:
- the potential environmental impacts of Phase 1, taken alone, are insignificant;
- ample and unconstrained infrastructure facilities and services exist to support Phase 1;
- the Project is severable, such that Phase 1 does not require the implementation of any other future phase of the Project or restrict the means by which potential environmental impacts from any other phase of the Project may be avoided, minimized or mitigated; and
- the Agency Action on Phase 1 will contain terms to ensure due compliance with MEPA prior to commencement of any other phase of the Project.
Review of Waiver Requests
The Secretary will make a determination regarding the request for a Waiver based on review of the EENF; a demonstration that a project can meet the regulatory standards for waivers; consultation with state agencies; and review of comments submitted on the EENF.
If the Secretary does not propose to grant a waiver, that determination will be included in a Certificate on the EENF. The Certificate on the EENF indicate whether the Secretary proposes to grant a waiver and, if a waiver is not granted, it will also include a Scope for the EIR.
If the Secretary determines that the waiver request has merit, the Secretary will issue a Certificate on the EENF and a separate Draft Record of Decision (DROD) which may include a Scope for the EIR of the entire project, if applicable. The DROD will indicate that the Secretary proposes to grant a waiver and address consistency with the regulatory criteria for a waiver.
The DROD is published in the next edition of the Environmental Monitor and is subject to a 14-day public comment period. The Secretary has 7 days after the close of the comment period to make a determination to grant the waiver in the form of a Final Record of Decision (FROD) or, if he declines to grant it, to issue a revised Scope for the EIR to include impacts associated with Phase 1.