Legal Aspect of Environmental Permitting in the Emergency Response Environment

Title: Legal Aspect of Environmental Permitting in the Emergency Response Environment
Author: Sun, Carlos
Publication Date: 2015
Dewey Decimal Number: 341.762
Call Record: DIGITAL      341.762  Sun  2015


Legal Aspect of Environmental Permitting in the Emergency Response Environment

Accession Number:


Record Type:



Transportation Research Board Business Office

500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
Order URL:

Find a library where document is available

Order URL:


Most state systems of highways and bridges (highway infrastructure) 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 demonstrated. Disasters have created circumstances not typically encountered in highway rehabilitation, construction, and reconstruction projects, leading to unique challenges and opportunities. Essential environmental and other regulatory requirements of resource agencies must be achieved on an expedited basis. The federal government, states, and local governments have made successful efforts to expedite the resumption of services and use of facilities. The above scenario presents an opportunity for a research project that compares and contrasts environmental 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 successful responses to the challenges faced. This legal digest discusses various processes used by governmental entities to attain compliance with environmental laws and regulations in the case of emergencies. These processes were identified through interviews and surveys of various agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state departments of transportation. Some of these processes include strong interagency relationships, the use of categorical exclusions, formal preexisting procedures, up-to-date inventories and tools, staffing composition, informal arrangements, proper planning and scoping, and the use of waivers and exceptions. 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 practices reported by agency experts.

Report/Paper Numbers:

NCHRP Project 20-6




Sun, Carlos
Williams, Douglas


James B McDaniel



Publication Date:



NCHRP Legal Research Digest

Issue Number: 64
Publisher: Transportation Research Board



Media Type:



Figures; References; Tables

Subject Areas:

Environment; Highways; Law; Security and Emergencies; I15: Environment