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FDIC Federal Register Citations

[Federal Register: November 13, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 219)]
[Notices]               
[Page 63474-63476]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr13no98-77]
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FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION
 
Statement of Policy Regarding the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969
AGENCY: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
ACTION: Final Statement of Policy.
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SUMMARY: As part of the FDIC's systematic review of its regulations and 
written policies under section 303(a) of the Riegle Community 
Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 (CDRI Act), the FDIC 
is revising its Statement of Policy on the National Environment Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA). The original Statement of Policy, issued on March 
31, 1980, describes the FDIC's responsibility and procedures with 
respect to the NEPA.
    The revised Statement of Policy reflects the FDIC's experience in 
applying the current NEPA Statement of Policy, and primarily affects 
applications for deposit insurance for de novo institutions, 
establishment of a domestic branch, and relocation of a domestic branch 
or main office. Categorical exclusions are established for all other 
filings submitted to the FDIC pursuant to 12 CFR part 303. In 
extraordinary circumstances, however, the NEPA procedures may also 
impact categorically excluded filings. The revision also makes the 
Statement of Policy more concise and understandable.
    On July 15, 1998, the FDIC published for comment in the Federal 
Register its revised Statement of Policy (63 FR 38172-74). During the 
45-day public comment period, no comments were received. Accordingly, 
the revised Statement of Policy has been adopted by the FDIC's Board of 
Directors.
DATES: The revised Statement of Policy will become effective December 
14, 1998.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marilyn Reddy, Review Examiner, 
Division of Supervision (202) 898-6772; A. Ann Johnson, Counsel, Legal 
Division (202) 898-3573; David Fisher, Counsel, Legal Division (202)-
736-3103, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Washington, DC 20429.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FDIC is conducting a systematic review 
of its regulations and written policies. Section 303(a) of the CDRI 
Act, 12 U.S.C. 4803(a), requires the FDIC to streamline and modify its 
regulations and written policies in order to improve efficiency, reduce 
unnecessary costs, and eliminate unwarranted constraints on credit 
availability. Section 303(a) also requires the FDIC to remove 
inconsistencies and outmoded and duplicative requirements from its 
regulations and written policies.
    As part of this review, the FDIC has determined that its Statement 
of Policy on the NEPA should be revised. The NEPA sets forth a national 
policy to promote preservation of the environment. It requires, in 
part, that all agencies of the Federal Government include in every 
recommendation or report on major Federal actions significantly 
affecting the quality of the human environment a detailed statement 
that addresses the environmental impact of the proposal. The Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) has adopted regulations that implement this 
requirement. 40 CFR part 1500.
    The FDIC issued its current Statement of Policy in 1980 to provide 
guidance on the NEPA and its implementing regulations. The Statement of 
Policy provides that the FDIC will consider relevant environmental 
factors and make a threshold determination that a proposed action does 
or does not significantly affect the environment. The determination is 
required for applications for deposit insurance, to establish a branch, 
to merge, or to move an office. The current Statement of Policy also 
provides detailed information on the preparation of an environmental 
impact statement.
    Consistent with the goals of the CDRI Act review, the FDIC is 
modifying the Statement of Policy to enhance efficiency in implementing 
the NEPA requirements. Pursuant to the CEQ regulations (40 CFR 
1507.3(b)), the revised Statement of Policy establishes categorical 
exclusions for all filings made by depository institutions pursuant to 
12 CFR part 303 with the exception of applications for deposit 
insurance for de novo institutions, and applications for establishment 
of a domestic branch or relocation of a domestic branch or main office. 
Absent extraordinary circumstances, filings subject to a categorical 
exclusion require no further NEPA action.
    For those applications that are categorically excluded, the revised 
Statement of Policy provides that the FDIC may request additional 
information from applicants if extraordinary circumstances indicate
[[Page 63475]]
that a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental 
effect. For example, additional information may be requested where 
filings involve real property with endangered or threatened species, 
wetlands or floodplains, cultural or historic sites, or where 
construction is proposed.
    The revised Statement of Policy also describes the responsibilities 
of the applicant in submitting a part 303 filing and the FDIC in 
reviewing the filing. Before approving a filing that is not 
categorically excluded, the FDIC must prepare an environmental 
assessment (EA). The applicant is required to submit sufficient 
information for the FDIC to determine whether the application may 
affect the quality of the human environment.
    If the EA prepared by the FDIC indicates that approval of the 
filing will not significantly affect the quality of the human 
environment, the NEPA process will conclude with a finding of no 
significant impact (FONSI) to document the FDIC's determination.
    On the other hand, if the EA indicates that approval of the filing 
may significantly affect the quality of the human environment, the FDIC 
will prepare and circulate an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 
accordance with the CEQ regulations. Because cases that involve the 
preparation of an EIS are expected to be extremely rare, the revised 
Statement of Policy no longer includes detailed information on the 
preparation of an EIS. Instead, the revised Statement of Policy states 
that the FDIC will comply with the requirements of the CEQ regulations.
    In addition, the revised Statement of Policy provides for public 
involvement in the FDIC's NEPA compliance activities.
    According to the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), 
the FDIC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. Although 
the revised Statement of Policy does not create or change any 
collection of information, OMB has approved the information collections 
referenced in the revised Statement of Policy as parts of a larger 
collection of information. OMB control numbers for the approved 
information collections specifically referenced in the revised 
Statement of Policy are OMB control number 3064-0001, expiring on July 
31, 2000, for applications dealing with deposit insurance, and OMB 
control number 3064-0070, expiring on November 30, 2000, for 
applications dealing with establishment of a branch, relocation of a 
main office, and relocation of a branch. Application requirements and 
procedures are located at 12 CFR part 303 et seq.
    On July 15, 1998, the FDIC published for comment in the Federal 
Register its revised Statement of Policy (63 FR 38172-74). During the 
45-day public comment period, no comments were received. Accordingly, 
the Board of Directors of the FDIC has adopted the revised Statement of 
Policy on the National Environmental Policy Act, as proposed in the 
Federal Register on July 15, 1998 and set forth below.
Statement of Policy
National Environmental Policy Act Procedures Relating to Filings 
Made With the FDIC
    This Statement of Policy addresses the FDIC's compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4331, et seq. 
(NEPA), with respect to applications, notices, and requests (filings) 
submitted to the FDIC in accordance with governing regulations at 12 
CFR part 303. The procedures in this Statement of Policy primarily 
affect applications for deposit insurance for de novo institutions, 
establishment of a domestic branch, and relocation of a domestic branch 
or main office. There may be extraordinary circumstances where these 
NEPA procedures also impact other filings submitted pursuant to part 
303.
A. Responsibility of the FDIC
    The NEPA sets forth a national policy to promote preservation of 
the environment. Section 102(2)(C) of the NEPA requires, in part, that 
all agencies of the Federal Government include in every recommendation 
or report on major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality 
of the human environment a detailed statement that addresses the 
environmental impact of the proposal. The Council on Environmental 
Quality (CEQ) has adopted regulations that implement section 102(2)(C) 
of the NEPA. 40 CFR part 1500.
    The FDIC believes that its decisions on part 303 filings will 
rarely have a significant effect on the human environment. 
Nevertheless, it is the policy of the FDIC to evaluate fully its 
regulatory actions, as necessary, in accordance with the requirements 
of the NEPA. This Statement of Policy supplements, and shall be used by 
the FDIC in conjunction with, the CEQ regulations.
B. Background
    NEPA and the implementing CEQ regulations require a Federal agency 
to prepare an ``environmental impact statement'' (EIS) to analyze the 
effects of, and discuss alternatives for, any proposed major Federal 
action (including approval of a filing) significantly affecting the 
quality of the human environment. Often, to determine whether an EIS 
must be prepared, an agency will prepare an ``environmental 
assessment'' (EA). The EA will result in either a finding that an EIS 
must be prepared, or a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).
C. Definitions
    As used in this statement of policy:
    <bullet> Major Federal action includes actions with effects that 
may be major and which are potentially subject to Federal control and 
responsibility.
    <bullet> Environmental impact statement (EIS) means a detailed 
written statement as required by section 102(2)(C) of the NEPA which 
analyzes the environmental impact of the FDIC's approval of a filing.
    <bullet> Environmental assessment (EA) means a concise document 
that sets forth sufficient information for the FDIC to determine 
whether to prepare an EIS.
    <bullet> Finding of no significant impact (FONSI) means a 
determination that approval of the filing will not have a significant 
effect on the quality of the human environment and therefore no further 
NEPA analysis is required.
    <bullet> Categorical exclusion means a category of filings that do 
not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human 
environment, and which require no NEPA analysis.
D. Categorical Exclusions
    The CEQ regulations require Federal agencies to develop categorical 
exclusions as part of the agencies' NEPA procedures. 40 CFR 
1507.3(b)(2)(ii). Accordingly, the FDIC is establishing categorical 
exclusions for all filings made by depository institutions pursuant to 
part 303 with the exception of applications for:
    (1) Deposit insurance for de novo institutions.
    (2) Establishment of a domestic branch, or relocation of a domestic 
branch or main office.
    All other part 303 filings are subject to categorical exclusions 
and, therefore, require no further NEPA action. Consistent with the CEQ 
regulations, however, the FDIC may request additional information from 
applicants if extraordinary circumstances indicate that a normally 
categorically excluded action may have a significant environmental 
effect. Such extraordinary circumstances may exist,
[[Page 63476]]
for example, where filings involve real property where endangered or 
threatened species, wetlands or floodplains may be present, where the 
applicant's proposed activity impacts cultural or historic sites, or 
where construction is proposed.
E. FDIC Procedure
    In reviewing a part 303 filing, the FDIC will determine whether the 
filing falls within the categorical exclusions established by this 
statement of policy. If the filing falls within the categorical 
exclusions, the FDIC will determine whether the proposal involves any 
extraordinary circumstances that require NEPA analysis. If necessary, 
the FDIC may request additional information from an applicant to aid in 
this determination.
1. Environmental Assessment
    The FDIC must prepare an EA before approving a filing for (1) 
deposit insurance for a de novo institution, or (2) establishment of a 
domestic branch, or relocation of a domestic branch or main office. The 
applicant must provide sufficient information for the FDIC to determine 
whether the application may affect the quality of the human 
environment.
    The applicant shall provide information on compliance with local 
zoning laws and regulations, and effects on traffic patterns 
(including, for example, adequacy of roads and parking places, increase 
or decrease of traffic hazards and congestion, and favorable impacts 
such as potential decrease in pollution or fuel consumption). The FDIC 
may request additional information, as warranted, on other matters. 
Based on its evaluation of this information, the FDIC will prepare the 
EA.
2. Finding of No Significant Impact
    If the EA indicates that approval of the filing will not 
significantly affect the quality of the human environment, the NEPA 
process will conclude with a FONSI to document the FDIC's determination 
of no significant effect on the human environment.
3. Environmental Impact Statement
    If the EA indicates that approval of the filing may significantly 
affect the quality of the human environment, the FDIC will prepare an 
EIS in accordance with the CEQ regulations.
F. Public Involvement
    Pursuant to the CEQ regulations, the FDIC will make diligent 
efforts to involve the public in its NEPA compliance activities. In 
addition to the public notice requirements set forth in part 303, the 
FDIC will apprise the public of the availability of any environmental 
impact statements it prepares and will provide opportunity for public 
comment prior to the finalization of those documents.
G. Summary and Conclusion
    Most of the filings made by depository institutions pursuant to 
part 303 will fall within the categorical exclusions established by 
this Statement of Policy. For those filings not falling within the 
categorical exclusions, or involving extraordinary circumstances, the 
FDIC will analyze relevant information with respect to environmental 
factors and incorporate it into the FDIC's environmental assessment. 
Filings that require the FDIC's preparation of an environmental impact 
statement are expected to be extremely rare. When those instances 
arise, the FDIC will comply with the requirements of the CEQ 
regulations regarding the preparation and processing of environmental 
impact statements.
H. Information Requests
    Inquiries regarding specific filings and requests for documents and 
information should be directed to the appropriate regional director of 
the FDIC's Division of Supervision.
    By order of the Board of Directors.
    Dated at Washington, DC, this 27th day of October, 1998.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Robert E. Feldman,
Executive Secretary.
[FR Doc. 98-30367 Filed 11-12-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6714-01-P

Last Updated 11/13/1998 regs@fdic.gov