A process mandated by federal law that requires federal agencies to coordinate their plans, programs and management activities with local governments to resolve inconsistencies with State or local plans, policies, or programs.
Coordination is a two way street. It is not only for federal agencies to be apprised of the county, conservation district, school district and fire district’s policy and plans. It is also because as local governments are in their planning process they are aware of what the federal agencies are doing as well
“Coordinate” is a word of common usage, and when interpreted by courts, the common dictionary definition is adopted. Webster’s New International Dictionary defines “coordinate” as “of equal importance, rank or degree, not subordinate.”
“CONSISTENCY” IS THE KEY
Coordination is defined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) as: 1) early notification of local government; 2) opportunity for meaningful local government input; 3) agency required to be apprised of any local government policy or plan; 4) agency must consider local government policy or plan when working on federal policy or plan or management action, and; 5) make all practicable effort to make the federal policy, plan or action "consistent" with the local policy or plan.
“Consistency” gives coordination serious meaning and significance to local government forcing the agency to listen meaningfully to local government.
National Environment Policy Act (NEPA)
Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA.
NEPA procedures must insure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken. The information must be of high quality. Accurate scientific analysis, expert agency comments, and public scrutiny are essential to implementing NEPA. Most important, NEPA documents must concentrate on the issues that are truly significant to the action in question, rather than amassing needless detail. §1500.1(b)
To better integrate environmental impact statements into the state or local planning processes, statements shall discuss any inconsistency of a proposed action with any approved state or local plan and laws. Where an inconsistency exists, the statement should describe the extent to which the Agency would reconcile its proposed action with the plan or law. §1506.2(d)
Agencies shall integrate the NEPA process with other planning (local government) at the earliest possible time to insure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values, to avoid delays later in the process, and to head off potential conflicts. §1501.2
Study, develop, and describe appropriate alternatives to recommended courses of action in any proposal which involves unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources as provided by section 102(2)(E) of the Act. §1501.2(c)