When to prepare and submit an EIR
1. The State Comptroller may not authorize release of funds from the state treasury for a project unless the request is accompanied by the written approval of the Governor after consideration of the comments of DEQ on the environmental impacts of the project.
2. State agencies must submit an EIR in sufficient time to permit any modification of a project that may be needed because of environmental impacts.
B. DEQ must review an EIR and make a statement to the Governor within 60 days.
1. The 60-day review period will begin upon receipt of a report that meets the requirements of Virginia Code §10.1-1188. DEQ will confirm receipt of completed EIRs or request additional information, and will inform agencies about the expected review schedule.
2. Agencies must submit EIRs in time to accomplish review and design modification before the commencement of any site preparation for project construction.
Agencies risk project delays and additional costs if an EIR is submitted after project design has been completed. If the EIR is incomplete, or if the review results in a recommendation from DEQ for project modification to avoid or reduce an environmental impact, the start of construction may be delayed until redesign has been completed.
3. DEQ and reviewing agencies may determine that certain projects have negligible environmental impacts, and do not need detailed analysis and review. Where DEQ and reviewing agencies agree that a project would cause little impact, review may be completed in less than 60 days. If specific concerns are found, they will be analyzed and resolved with appropriate agencies. Specific concerns may also lead to negotiation or follow-up if not readily resolved.
1. DEQ encourages agencies to notify DEQ of their intent to submit the EIR for review at least 30 days before submission. A sample format for notifying DEQ of the intent to submit an EIR is shown on Form 2, located in Appendix 1 of these procedures.
2. DEQ recommends that EIRs be submitted in the spring of the year preceding adoption of the Commonwealth's biennial budget.
The EIR is one of several documents that are required by the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) and the Division of Engineering and Buildings (DEB) prior to project implementation. Early submission provides needed time to resolve questions about the EIR in order to meet the DEB requirement for the project. This time frame also implements Virginia Code §10.1-1191, which requires EIR submission early enough to allow for project modification necessitated by environmental impact. Early completion of the EIR review allows the necessary modifications to be included in the project designs at the same time that the funds are appropriated.
3. There is no penalty for submitting a project EIR at other times of the year; however, submission by June 30 provides adequate time to resolve issues pertaining to the EIR.
D. EIR preparation and review should be an integral part of project planning.
1. For construction, project EIRs should be prepared, submitted, and reviewed during the planning or equivalent phase of project development.
2. When land acquisition for construction is proposed and sufficient information concerning the development of the site is not immediately available, a two-part EIR will be accepted in order to facilitate time constraints associated with acquisition. Part 1 should precede the acquisition of land, and Part 2 may be deferred to a more appropriate phase of the project planning schedule.
Where possible, a complete EIR for the proposed facility should be reviewed before the property is acquired. Where preliminary design cannot be accomplished prior to acquisition, a two part EIR should be submitted according to the criteria discussed in Section 5.
EIRs for projects that include land acquisition must be submitted before the proponent agency is committed to the acquisition. We recommend that an option to purchase a property be obtained and the pre-acquisition phase of the EIR be submitted in time for review to be completed before the option expires.
Where unforeseen and uncontrollable events require an expedited review, DEQ will attempt to expedite the review process. However, failure by an agency to submit an EIR in a timely manner will not be sufficient grounds to shorten the review period.
3. The Governor may approve receipt of gifts to the Commonwealth and expenditures of money on emergency projects when the General Assembly is not in session, under specified conditions which are typically enunciated in Virginia Code Section 4-4.01(i) of each budget bill. Emergency projects require completion of the EIR and the review process as a pre-requisite to project implementation. In these cases the EIR should be submitted as soon as possible, and DEQ will review it as quickly as possible. Early contact with DEQ is recommended to ensure that DEQ's project schedule can accommodate an expedited review.
The DEQ will review completed EIRs within the 60-day statutory time frame. Depending on circumstances such as those mentioned above, the review period may be shortened. However, inadequate analysis or information may cause the review period to be extended.