The Office of Environmental Impact Review coordinates the Commonwealth's response to environmental documents for proposed state and federal projects. The environmental impact review staff distributes documents to appropriate state agencies, planning districts and localities for their review and comment. Upon consideration of all comments, the staff prepares a single state response.
State agencies are required by the Virginia Code sections 10.1-1188 et seq. to prepare and submit environmental impact reports for construction of facilities that will cost $500,000 or more. The requirement also covers acquisition of land for construction, which includes leases, and expansion of existing facilities.
The coordinated response is sent for consideration to the Secretary of Administration, who represents the Governor, under Executive Order 88(01). The secretary's approval, after consideration of DEQ's comments, is required before funds can be released for the project. DEQ has 60 days after receipt of the environmental impact report to make its comments to the secretary and the proponent agency.
Power, Mineral, Drilling and Airport Projects
Other types of state reviews coordinated by the Office of Environmental Impact Review include permits for operation or expansion of public airports or landing fields. Each project requires an environmental document, public notice, public hearing, and review. In addition, exploration for and extraction of minerals on state-owned lands and application for drilling permits in the Tidewater area require environmental impact reviews. Similarly, the Office of Environmental Impact Review coordinates, at the request of the State Corporation Commission, environmental reports for proposed power plants and associated appurtenances. Highway projects are currently handled exclusively by the Department of Transportation.
The National Environmental Policy Act requires environmental impact statements or environmental assessments for certain classes of federal projects and actions. The Office of Environmental Impact Review participates in three phases of the National Environmental Policy Act review process: scoping, draft document review and final document review. The office coordinates federal intergovernmental review for all federal actions and locally sponsored projects in Virginia Coastal areas that are federally funded.
Also, all federal actions and programs that affect Virginia's coastal uses or resources must be carried out in a manner that is consistent with Virginia's Coastal Zone Management Program. The Office of Environmental Impact Review conducts consistency reviews concurrently with the National Environmental Policy Act reviews, if feasible.