Early coordination with other federal, state and local agencies and with the public is an essential ingredient in the project development process, the CSS approach and the NEPA process. Early coordination helps in determining the appropriate level of documentation, developing the project's purpose and need discussion, determining alternatives, and identifying issues of concern, the scope of the environmental resources that would be affected by the project, permit requirements, possible mitigation measures, and opportunities for environmental enhancements. Early coordination needs to begin before the NEPA process is initiated, as part of the early project development process. Coordination should occur during the development of long range transportation plans by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and should follow through into the NEPA process.
This task includes coordination with agencies such as the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), other federal and state agencies and local governments. It also may include coordination with quasi-public agencies, private organizations, and individuals that might be affected by or are identified as being interested in the project.
Described in this chapter are the coordination requirements of the new environmental review process mandated by SAFETEA-LU for EIS documents, the NEPA mandated Notice of Intent and scoping process, the Environmental Division's initial coordination process, and the Tennessee Environmental Streamlining Agreement (TESA) process. The chapter also defines the concepts of lead agency, cooperating agency, and participating agency.