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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Definitions of Environmental Terms

A request for a major action by the agency requires an environmental submission to support a final environmental decision. The types of environmental requirements are prepared in different formats and distinctively named. Correspondingly, final environmental decisions for each environmental requirement are prepared and named differently too. The various terms used to denote final environmental decisions and to distinguish among the types of environmental requirements may be labeled with abbreviated notations, which may appear in an inventory of final environmental impact decisions for actions. A brief list of terms and explanations defining those terms are provided here.


Cat Ex
Categorical exclusion is a type of environmental requirement, submitted to the agency, that claims that a requested action by the agency is one of the classes of actions listed in 21 CFR 25.32 that do not require the preparation of an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.
 
Cat Ex Memo
Categorical exclusion memorandum is a final environmental decision, prepared by the agency, that simply states that a claim of categorical exclusion cites the CFR section under which a proposed action is listed for exclusion, states compliance with the criteria for categorical exclusion, and states that no extraordinary circumstances exist that require the submission of an environmental assessment. These memoranda are not included in a decision inventory unless the Cat Ex memo contains supplemental information, prepared by the agency needed to support the final decision.
 
Cat Ex Supplement
Supplement, which is prepared by the agency, contains additional information, data, or discussion needed to support a final environmental decision for a claim of categorical exclusion.
 
EA
Environmental assessment is a type of environmental requirement, submitted to the agency, that addresses relevant environmental issues to a sufficient extent that enables the agency to determine whether a proposed action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment and enables the public to understand the basis of the agency's decision.
 
EA Supplement
Supplement, which is prepared by the agency, contains additional information, data, or discussion needed to support a final environmental decision for an environmental assessment.
 
EIS
Environmental Impact Statement is a type of environmental requirement, prepared by the agency, when evaluation of data or information in an EA or otherwise available to the agency leads to a finding that a requested action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
 
FONSI
Finding of No Significant Impact is a final environmental decision, prepared by the agency, that a proposed action, of a type requiring an EA, does not pose a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.