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Legal Research Digest 64 NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM February 2015 TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES LEGAL ASPECT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING IN THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ENVIRONMENT This report was prepared under NCHRP Project 20-6, âLegal Problems Arising Out of Highway Programs,â for which the Transportation Research Board is the agency coordinating the research. The report was prepared by Carlos Sun, University of Missouri, and Douglas Williams, Saint Louis University School of Law. James B. McDaniel, TRB Counsel for Legal Research Projects, was the principal investigator and content editor. The Problem and Its Solution State highway departments and transportation agen- cies have a continuing need to keep abreast of operat- ing practices and legal elements of specific problems in highway law. This report continues NCHRPâs practice of keeping departments up-to-date on laws that will affect their operations. Applications Most state systems of highways and bridges (highway in- frastructure) have been adversely affected by natural and other disasters. These events include storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, fires, drought, acts of terrorism, and catastrophic failures related to the ravages of use and time. Highway infrastructure can be severely damaged and even destroyed by such events, and there is often a need to expedite clean-up and repair or reconstruction of the damaged structure or facility. Often in the emergency situations that result from these catastrophic events, the best of participants is demon- strated. Disasters have created circumstances not typically encountered in highway rehabilitation, construction, and reconstruction projects, leading to unique challenges and opportunities. Essential environmental and other regula- tory requirements of resource agencies must be achieved on an expedited basis. The federal government, states, and local governments have made successful efforts to expe- dite the resumption of services and use of facilities. The above scenario presents an opportunity for a research project that compares and contrasts environ- mental resource, regulatory, and other processes that various governmental entities use to facilitate recovery from catastrophic events. Government agencies stand to benefit from these case studies that demonstrate success- ful responses to the challenges faced. This legal digest discusses various processes used by governmental entities to attain compliance with environ- mental laws and regulations in the case of emergencies. These processes were identified through interviews and surveys of various agencies, including the Federal High- way Administration, the Federal Emergency Manage- ment Agency, and state departments of transportation. Some of these processes include strong interagency rela- tionships, the use of categorical exclusions, formal pre- existing procedures, up-to-date inventories and tools, staffing composition, informal arrangements, proper planning and scoping, and the use of waivers and excep- tions. Case studies are reviewed to illustrate compliance in the case of emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, structural failures, and accidents. Results of a national Web survey indicated that strong interagency relationships and the use of categorical exclusions represent two of the most popular best prac- tices reported by agency experts. Responsible Senior Program Officer: Gwen Chisholm Smith