A. Who is required to submit an environmental impact report?
1. All state agencies, boards, commissions, authorities, and any branch of state government are required to prepare and submit an environmental impact report (EIR) to the DEQ on each major state project.
2. State-supported institutions of higher learning are subject to the EIR requirement;
3. Counties, cities, and towns are exempt from the EIR requirement excepting local highway and road projects (2007 amendment to §10.1-1188, see Appendix 9 for guidance)
4. Housing development or redevelopment authorities and industrial development authorities are exempt from the EIR requirement. Also, effective July 1, 2012, the Virginia Port Authority’s projects are exempt unless it is a capital project that costs in excess of $5 million (2012 amendment to §10.1-1188).
B. Which projects require an environmental impact report?
1. The requirement applies to major state projects as defined by Virginia Code §10.1-1188. This includes the following activities if they cost $500,000 or more:
- the acquisition, including gifts, leases, or purchase of land or rights thereto, for state facility construction;
- construction of a facility;
- expansion of an existing facility.
2. The definition of major state projects also applies to any lease of state land to private entities for construction that meets the criteria of this section.
C. Which state projects do not require environmental impact reports?
1. Environmental assessment for highway and road construction on VDOT rights-of-way is conducted according to procedures defined in a memorandum of agreement by the Secretaries of Transportation and Natural Resources.
However, environmental impact reports are required for parking lots, sidewalks, driveways and other pavement within a state project boundary if they meet the criteria of Sections A and B, above.
2. Environmental impact reports are not required for repairs, interior renovations, or "maintenance reserve" projects. Maintenance reserve projects include the following, provided replacements are along the same alignments as the structures being replaced:
- Repair or replacement of damaged or inoperable equipment such as elevators, furnaces, plumbing fixtures, air conditioning and ventilation equipment;
- Repair or replacement of components of plant such as masonry, ceilings, floor, floor coverings, roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, exterior lighting, boilers, and air conditioners;
- Repair or replacement of existing utility systems, such as electrical, water and sewer, heating and cooling; and
- Correction of deficiency in property and plant that are required to conform with building and safety codes or those associated with hazard corrections, including asbestos hazards when incidental to repair/maintenance.
3. When a state agency acquires developed property, no EIR is required unless new construction involving land-disturbing activities is proposed including expansion of the existing structure, replacement of the structure, or construction of additional structures. However, proponent agencies should conduct an environmental hazards inspection before acquiring any property since pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, a purchaser can be liable for past contamination of a property.
4. EIRs are not required for master plans, although construction of specific facilities shown on a master plan will require an EIR if they meet the criteria in Sections A and B, above.
Although it is not required, DEQ strongly encourages state entities preparing master plans for multiple acquisition or development projects to prepare an EIR. Review of the master plan EIR will expedite the review process for individual projects under the master plan by resolving common issues early.
5. Acquisition for the purpose of carrying out an agency's land management responsibilities, which does not involve building on the land, does not require an EIR. Examples include the acquisition of Natural Area Preserves, Wildlife Management Areas, or State Forest lands.
D. Can the requirement to prepare an EIR be waived?
DEQ has no authority under the EIR law to waive the requirement for preparation of an EIR of "major state projects" as defined in §10.1-1188.
E. Can a federal environmental impact assessment (EA) or statement (EIS) fulfill the requirement for a state EIR?
1. Where a project is subject to both state and federal requirements, DEQ will accept a suitable federal document as the state EIR. The document must meet the standards in this manual.
2. State agencies that must meet federal EA or EIS requirements for a project should consult with DEQ early in the planning process in order to avoid duplicating effort to produce the state EIR.
F. What if a project changes?
If a proposed project changes subsequent to the EIR review and approval, DEQ must be notified. DEQ shall determine if the change affects the environmental consequences addressed in the EIR thereby requiring further review.