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(1) The following types of actions do not individually, collectively, or cumulatively require the preparation of an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement, unless the action involves one or more of the extraordinary circumstances stated in (3).

(2) The following actions meet the criteria for categorical exclusions and will not normally require preparation of either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement in considering applications for grants or loans to finance these projects:

(a) projects that will be partially funded by, or for which the applicant must obtain a permit from, a state or federal agency which, by reason of its funding or permitting function, has primary responsibility to consider the environmental impacts of the project under MEPA or the National Environmental Policy Act;

(b) activities which do not involve or lead directly to construction, such as planning studies, scientific research and analysis, surveys, or engineering;

(c) projects primarily involving the acquisition of capital equipment;

(d) projects that involve only minor repairs or rehabilitation to an existing facility, including functional replacement of an existing facility or facility components;

(e) projects where the footprint of the proposed structures, pipelines, or other infrastructure would be substantially unchanged from existing conditions, and there is no increase in the population served by the facility; or

(f) emergency repairs, reconstruction, restoration, retrofitting, or replacement of an existing facility that is in operation or under construction when damaged and the action:

(i) occurs within the existing facility footprint and in a manner that substantially conforms to the preexisting design, function, and location as the original (which may include upgrades to meet existing codes and standards as well as upgrades warranted to address conditions that have changed since the original construction); and

(ii) is commenced within six months after the date of the emergency.

(3) Actions described in (2) may not be processed as categorical exclusions if:

(a) they involve substantial public controversy over the project's potential effect on the quality of the human environment;

(b) the proposed project might have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment; or

(c) the project might affect sensitive environmental or cultural resource areas or endangered or threatened species and their critical habitats.

(4) If information available to the department indicates that a proposed project in one of the categories described in (2) may involve one of the situations described in (3), the department may, in its sole discretion, require an applicant to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement as may be appropriate.

History: 2-3-103, 2-4-201, MCA; IMP, 2-3-104, 75-1-201, MCA; NEW, 2015 MAR p. 1481, Eff. 9/25/15.

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