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NEPA Analysis: NIJ Categorical Exclusions

Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs) are a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect in procedures formally adopted by a federal agency.

CATEX determinations are a type of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, not an exemption from NEPA. CATEX lists are developed by each federal agency through their NEPA implementing procedures and must be formally approved by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). CATEX determinations do not require documentation, such as the completion of a NIJ Grants Program Checklist or Environmental Assessment (EA).

The NIJ CATEXs are:

  1. The bulk of the funded efforts; training programs, court improvement projects, research, and gathering statistical data.
  2. Minor renovation projects or remodeling.

If extraordinary circumstances exist, a CATEX will not be issued. The following factors of extraordinary circumstances are considered when determining whether extraordinary circumstances exist, such that an activity may not be categorically excluded from further NEPA review:

  • Potential for noise impacts to exceed allowable noise standards as established by federal, state, and local regulations;
  • Potential for hazardous or solid waste generation to exceed management capabilities on site or otherwise threaten violation of requirements to control hazardous or toxic substances;
  • Potential for air emissions that could contribute to nonattainment status under the Clean Air Act or otherwise fail to conform to an applicable State Implementation Plan;
  • Whether the action is expected to have permanent or long-term impacts, such as placement of a structure that will be kept on site for long-term use;
  • Whether the action is of a much greater scope or size than normally experienced for this particular action;
  • Proximity to environmentally sensitive areas or resources such as federally listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat, floodplains, wetlands, religious or cultural sites, or historic properties;
  • Proximity to sensitive or Indigenous populations;
  • Public controversy surrounding the activity;
  • Potential cumulative impacts created by the activity;
  • Potential to violate statutory, regulatory, or permit requirements for environmental, safety, and health at the federal, state, or local level;
  • Involves the development or use of new technologies with unproven impacts;
  • Involves uncertain risks or impacts;
  • Establishes a precedent for future actions that are likely to have significant impacts;
  • Whether other actions with potentially significant impacts are connected or otherwise dependent on the activity; and
  • Whether the activity is contrary to or otherwise unaligned with existing local or state plans or zoning requirements.
Date Published: September 9, 2019