The Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) is responsible for directing the environmental review process in proceedings where it is necessary. This involves conducting independent analysis of all environmental data and making environmental recommendations to the STB.
Information on the Board’s environmental regulations can be found here. These regulations implement various environmental statutes that include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act. The environmental regulations are designed to ensure adequate consideration of environmental factors in the STB’s decision-making process. The STB has adopted the former Interstate Commerce Commission environmental regulations that govern the environmental review process and outline procedures for preparing environmental documents.
Under NEPA, the STB must take into account in its decision-making the environmental impacts of its actions, including direct, indirect and cumulative impacts. The STB must consider these impacts before making its final decision in a case. OEA assists the STB in meeting this responsibility by: conducting an independent environmental review of cases filed with the agency; preparing any necessary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA); conducting public outreach to inform the public and communities about proposals before the agency and to notify them of the opportunity to raise environmental concerns; and providing technical advice and recommendations to the agency on environmental matters.
For most Board actions, OEA will either conduct an environmental analysis (EA) or determine that an action is subject to a categorical exclusion, meaning that no environmental review is required. An EIS, which is a more rigorous environmental review than an EA, is generally only required in cases in which a party is seeking authority to construct a new line of railroad.
At the conclusion of the environmental review process, the STB considers the entire environmental record, including all public comments submitted during the environmental review process, before making a final decision.