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Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act

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Final rule.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is amending its regulations governing compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (40 CFR parts 1500-1508). This rule replaces procedures contained in NASA's current regulations. The revised regulations are intended to improve NASA's efficiency in implementing NEPA requirements by reducing costs and preparation time while maintaining quality. In addition, NASA's experience in applying the NASA NEPA regulations since they were issued in 1988 suggested the need for NASA to make changes in its NEPA regulations.


Effective January 23, 2012.


For general information about NASA's NEPA process, readers are directed to the NASA NEPA Portal and NEPA Library at Questions may be directed to Tina Borghild Norwood, NASA NEPA Manager, at (202) 358-7324, or via email at


These final regulations are a supplement to the CEQ regulations implementing NEPA. These final regulations were drafted with the objective of minimizing repetition of requirements already contained in the CEQ regulations and with the understanding that these NASA-specific regulations would be applied with (and be bounded by) the CEQ regulations.

During the public comment period, the following documents were posted on the NASA's NEPA Portal and NEPA Library at (under News); the Federal Register Notice of NASA's Proposed Rule with Preamble, Preparers, and More Information on NASA's Categorical Exclusions. The Federal Register Notice (Volume 76, pages 43616-43629) includes a detailed preamble explaining the changes being made to NASA's NEPA regulations. The list of preparers and sample Categorical Exclusions were posted at the request of CEQ. This Federal Register Notice will also be posted on this Web site upon publication.

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2011, for a 60-day comment period. No public comments were received. Accordingly, NASA is issuing this rule with minor edits and the changes discussed below.

NASA reviewed the Categorical Exclusions (CatExs) in 1216.304(d) (1)-(5) and identified those CatExs that would require documentation (see 1216.304(d)(4) and (5)). This documentation will support the use of the CatEx for a site- or project-specific proposal, and the periodic review of CatExs stated in 1216.304(g). The reference to NASA's NEPA portal has been added to this subpart indicating where the public can access this subpart, NASA's NEPA policy, NEPA Library, public notices, and the list of NASA's NEPA personnel. NASA also added text to section 1216.302(a)(1) to identify where interested persons can get information or status reports on environmental impact statements and other elements of the NEPA process.

For further clarification NASA is also changing “installation” to “Center” in section 1216.305(b)(2), which describes the activities typically analyzed in an Environmental Assessment, but does not change the scope of the activities covered by that section. NASA “Centers” are the geographic boundaries of land that NASA manages and operates as a land-owner or tenant. NASA has ten Centers, several of which also manage remote locations. This subpart applies to all Centers in their entirety, including the management of remote locations. The Centers are comprised of “facilities”, which are the buildings that contain offices and technical structures; such as wind tunnels, space chambers, launch structures, and laboratories. “Laboratories”, as used in two CatExs, are a specialized type of facility.

In accordance with the CEQ NEPA regulations, 40 CFR 1507.3, NASA has consulted with CEQ regarding these final amendments to the NASA NEPA rule. CEQ has found the amendments are in conformity with NEPA and CEQ regulations.

The revisions to this subpart were included in NASA's retrospective analysis, conducted in accordance with Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review. NASA's Final Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Regulations was published in August 2011 and has been posted on the NASA NEPA portal at

Regulatory Analysis and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866—Regulatory Planning and Review

Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This final rule has been designated a “significant regulatory action” although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

B. Review Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires an agency to prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis to be published at the time the proposed rule is published. This requirement does not apply if the agency “certifies that the rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities” (5 U.S.C. 603). This rule modifies existing policies and procedural requirements for NASA compliance with NEPA. The rule makes no substantive changes to requirements imposed on applicants for licenses, permits, financial assistance, and similar actions as related to NEPA compliance. Therefore, NASA certifies this final rule would not have a “significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

C. Review Under the Paperwork Reduction Act

This final rule does not contain any information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

D. Environmental Review Under the National Environmental Policy Act

The Council on Environmental Quality regulations do not direct agencies to prepare a NEPA analysis or document before establishing Agency procedures (such as this regulation) that supplement the CEQ regulations for implementing NEPA. Agencies are required to adopt NEPA procedures that establish specific criteria for, and identify, three classes of actions: those that normally require preparation of an environmental impact statement; those that normally require preparation of an environmental assessment; and those that are categorically excluded from further NEPA review (40 CFR 1507.3 (b)). Categorical exclusions are an integral part of agency NEPA implementing procedures, and therefore establishing categorical exclusions does not require preparation of a NEPA analysis or document. Agency NEPA procedures are procedural guidance to assist agencies in the fulfillment of agency responsibilities under NEPA, but are not the agency's final determination of what level of NEPA analysis is required for a particular proposed action. The requirements for establishing agency NEPA procedures are set forth at 40 CFR 1505.1 and 1507.3. The determination that establishing NEPA implementing regulations does not require NEPA analysis and documentation has been upheld in Heartwood, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Service, 73 F. Supp. 2d 962, 972-73 (S.D. Ill 1999), aff'd, 230 F.3d 947, 954-55 (7th Cir. 2000).

E. Review Under Executive Order of 13132

Executive Order 13132, “Federalism,” 64 FR 43255 (August 10, 1999) requires regulations be reviewed for Federalism effects on the institutional interest of states and local governments, and, if the effects are sufficiently substantial, preparation of the Federal assessment is required to assist senior policy makers. These amendments will affect NEPA compliance procedures, which are not subject to state regulation. The amendments will not have any substantial direct effects on state and local governments within the meaning of the Executive Order. Therefore, no Federalism assessment is required.

F. Review Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

Under Section 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1533), Federal agencies are required to prepared a budgetary impact statement to accompany any proposed or final rule that included a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by state, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Because the NASA NEPA regulations affect only NASA and do not creation obligations on the part of any other person or government agency, neither state, local or tribal governments nor the private sector will be affected by the amendments to these regulations. There NASA has determined that further review under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act is not required.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 1216

For the reasons stated in the preamble, NASA amends Chapter V of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations by revising subpart 1216.3 of part 1216 as set forth below.


Subpart 1216.3 Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
NEPA process in NASA planning and decision making.
Categorical exclusions.
Actions requiring environmental assessments.
Actions normally requiring an EIS.
Programmatic EAs, EISs, and tiering.
Supplemental EAs and EISs.
Mitigation and monitoring.
Classified actions.
Emergency responses.

Appendix A to Subpart 1206.3—Acronyms and Definitions

Authority: The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended (51 U.S.C. 20101 et seq.); The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR parts 1500-1508).

Subpart 1216.3 Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)


(a) This subpart implements NEPA, setting forth NASA's policies and procedures for the early integration of environmental considerations into planning and decision making.

(b) Through this subpart, NASA adopts the CEQ regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and supplements those regulations with this subpart 1216.3, for actions proposed by NASA that are subject to NEPA requirements. This subpart is to be used in conjunction with the CEQ regulations. Consistent with the CEQ regulations at 40 CFR part 1500.3, no trivial violation of this part shall give rise to any independent cause of action. This subpart and NASA's NEPA policy are available on NASA's Public Portal at (under NEPA Process).


This subpart applies to all organizational elements of NASA.


(a) The NASA Senior Environmental Official (SEO) (as defined in Appendix A to this subpart) is responsible for overseeing and guiding NASA's integration of NEPA into the Agency's planning and decision making. The SEO, with the assistance of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), is responsible for developing NASA NEPA regulations and maintaining up-to-date Agency-wide NEPA guidance that fully integrates NEPA analysis into Agency planning and decision-making processes. The SEO shall monitor this process to ensure that these regulations and the associated Agency guidance are achieving their purposes. In addition, the NASA SEO is responsible for coordinating with other Federal agencies and the CEQ and consolidating and transmitting NASA's comments on EISs and other NEPA documentation prepared by other Federal agencies:

(1) The NASA Headquarters/Environmental Management Division (HQ/EMD) is delegated the SEO's overall responsibility of implementing NEPA functions and guiding NASA's integration of NEPA into the Agency's planning and decision making for all NASA activities. The HQ/EMD provides advice and consultation to all NASA entities in implementing their assigned responsibilities under NEPA. Interested persons can obtain information on the status of EISs and other elements of the NEPA process by contacting the NASA NEPA Manager at HQ/EMD identified at

(2) Each NASA Center has an environmental management office that guides and supports the working-level functions of the NEPA process, such as evaluating proposed actions; developing, reviewing, and approving required documentation; and advising project managers.

(b) The Responsible Official shall ensure that planning and decision making for each proposed Agency action complies with these regulations and with Agency NEPA policy and guidance provided by the SEO, HQ/EMD, and the Center's environmental management office. For facility programs and projects, the Responsible Official is the individual responsible for establishing, developing, and maintaining the institutional capabilities required for the execution of programs and projects (e.g., Center Director, facility manager). For other programs and projects, (e.g., space flight programs/projects, R&D programs/projects) the Responsible Official is the NASA official responsible for the formulation and implementation of the program or project (e.g., The Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate, Center Director).

(c) NASA must comply with this subpart when considering issuance of a permit, lease, easement, or grant to a non-Federal party and may seek such non-Federal party's assistance in obtaining necessary information and completing the NEPA process. The Responsible Official(s) for such action(s), in consultation with HQ/EMD and/or the Center's environmental management office, will determine the type of environmental information needed from the non-Federal party and the extent of the non-Federal party's participation in the necessary NEPA process.

NEPA process in NASA planning and decision making.

(a) NEPA requires the systematic examination of the environmental consequences of implementing a proposed Agency action. Full integration of the NEPA process with NASA project and program planning improves Agency decisions and ensures that:

(1) Planning and decision making support NASA's strategic plan commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship and comply with applicable environmental statutes, regulations, and policies.

(2) The public is appropriately engaged in the decision-making process.

(3) Procedural risks and delays are minimized.

(b) Determining the appropriate level of NEPA review and documentation for a proposed NASA action will depend upon the scope of the action and the context and intensity of the reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts.

(c) The environmental impacts of a proposed Agency action must be considered, along with technical, economic, and other factors that are reasonably foreseeable, beginning in the early planning stage of a proposed action. NASA will take no action which would have an adverse environmental impact or limit the choice of reasonable alternatives prior to completion of its NEPA review.

Categorical exclusions.

(a) Categorical Exclusions (CatExs) are categories of Agency actions with no individually or cumulatively significant impact on the human environment and for which neither an EA nor an EIS is required. The use of a CatEx is intended to reduce paperwork, improve Government efficiency, and eliminate delays in the initiation and completion of proposed actions having no significant impact.

(b) A proposed action may be categorically excluded if the action fits within a category of actions eligible for exclusion (such categories are listed in paragraph (d) of this section)), and the proposed action does not involve any extraordinary circumstances as described in paragraph (c) of this section:

(c) Extraordinary circumstances that will preclude the use of CatExs occur when the proposed action:

(1) Has a reasonable likelihood of having (individually or cumulatively) significant impacts on public health, safety, or the environment.

(2) Imposes uncertain or unique environmental risks.

(3) Is of significantly greater scope or size than is normal for this category of action.

(4) Has a reasonable likelihood of violating Federal, federally recognized Indian tribe, State, and/or local law or requirements imposed for the protection of the environment.

(5) Involves impacts on the quality of the environment that are likely to be environmentally controversial.

(6) May adversely affect environmentally sensitive resources, such as, but not limited to, federally listed threatened or endangered species, their designated critical habitat, wilderness areas, floodplains, wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, coastal zones, wild and scenic rivers, and significant fish or wildlife habitat, unless the impact has been resolved through another environmental review process; e.g., the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

(7) May adversely affect known national natural landmarks, or cultural or historic resources, including, but not limited to, property listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, unless the impact has been resolved through another environmental review process; e.g., the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

(d) Specific NASA actions meeting the criteria for being categorically excluded from the requirements for EAs and EISs are as follows:

(1) Administrative Activities including:

(i) Personnel actions, organizational changes, and procurement of routine goods and services.

(ii) Issuance of procedural rules, manuals, directives, and requirements.

(iii) Program budget proposals, disbursements, and transfer or reprogramming of funds.

(iv) Preparation of documents, including design and feasibility studies, analytical supply and demand studies, reports and recommendations, master and strategic plans, and other advisory documents.

(v) Information-gathering exercises, such as inventories, audits, studies, and field studies, including water sampling, cultural resources surveys, biological surveys, geologic surveys, modeling or simulations, and routine data collection and analysis activities.

(vi) Preparation and dissemination of information, including document mailings, publications, classroom materials, conferences, speaking engagements, Web sites, and other educational/informational activities.

(vii) Software development, data analysis, and/or testing, including computer modeling.

(viii) Interpretations, amendments, and modifications to contracts, grants, or other awards.

(2) Operations and Management Activities including:

(i) Routine maintenance, minor construction or rehabilitation, minor demolition, minor modification, minor repair, and continuing or altered operations at, or of, existing NASA or NASA-funded or -approved facilities and equipment, such as buildings, roads, grounds, utilities, communication systems, and ground support systems, such as space tracking and data systems.

(ii) Installation or removal of equipment, including component parts, at existing Government or private facilities.

(iii) Contribution of equipment, software, technical advice, exchange of data, and consultation to other agencies and public and private entities, where such assistance does not control a receiving entity's program, project, or activity.

(iv) NASA ceremonies, commemorative events, and memorial services.

(v) Routine packaging, labeling, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials and wastes, in accordance with applicable Federal, federally recognized Indian tribe, State, and/or local law or requirements.

(3) Research and Development (R&D) Activities including:

(i) Research, development, and testing in compliance with all applicable Federal, federally recognized Indian tribe, State, and/or local law or requirements and Executive orders.

(ii) Use of small quantities of radioactive materials in a laboratory or in the field. Uses include material for instrument detectors, calibration, and other purposes. Materials must be licensed, as required, and properly contained and shielded.

(iii) Use of lasers for research and development, scientific instruments and measurements, and distance and ranging, where such use meets all applicable Federal, federally recognized Indian tribe, State, and/or local law or requirements, and Executive orders. This applies to lasers used in spacecraft, aircraft, laboratories, watercraft, or outdoor activities.

(4) Real and Personal Property Activities including:

(i) Acquisition, transfer, or disposal of any personal property, or personal property rights or interests.

(ii) Granting or acceptance of easements, leases, licenses, rights-of-entry, and permits to use NASA-controlled property, or any other real property, for activities which, if conducted by NASA, would be categorically excluded in accordance with this section. This assumes that NASA has included any required notices in transfer documentation and any terms and conditions necessary to ensure protection of the environment, as applicable (Record of Environmental Consideration (REC) required).

(iii) Transfer or disposal of real property or real property rights or interests if the change in use is one which, if conducted by NASA, would be categorically excluded in accordance with this section (REC required).

(iv) Transfer of real property administrative control to another Federal agency, including the return of public domain lands to the Department of the Interior (DoI) or other Federal agencies, and reporting of property as excess and surplus to the General Services Administration (GSA) for disposal, when the agency receiving administrative control (or GSA, following receipt of a report of excess) will complete any necessary NEPA review prior to any change in land use (REC required).

(v) Acquisition of real property (including facilities) where the land use will not change substantially (REC required).

(5) Aircraft and Airfield Activities including:

(i) Periodic aircraft flight activities, including training and research and development, which are routine and comply with applicable Federal, federally recognized Indian tribe, State, and/or local law or requirements, and Executive orders.

(ii) Relocation of similar aircraft not resulting in a substantial increase in total flying hours, number of aircraft operations, operational parameters (e.g., noise), or permanent personnel or logistics support requirements at the receiving installation (REC required).

(e) The Responsible Official shall review the proposed action in its early planning stage and will consider the scope of the action and the context and intensity of any environmental impacts to determine whether there are extraordinary circumstances that could result in environmental impacts. If extraordinary circumstances exist, the Responsible Official will either withdraw the proposed action or initiate an EA or EIS.

(f) The NASA SEO will review the categorical exclusions at least every seven years, in accordance with CEQ guidance, to determine whether modifications, additions, or deletions are appropriate, based upon NASA's experience. Recommendations for modifications, additions, or deletions shall be submitted to the SEO for consideration and informal discussion with the CEQ.

Actions requiring environmental assessments.

(a) The Responsible Official will prepare an EA when a proposed action cannot be categorically excluded, and the proposed action is not expected to result in impacts that require analysis in an EIS. The Responsible Official will consider the scope of the action and the context and intensity of any environmental impacts when determining whether to prepare an EA.

(b) Typical NASA actions normally requiring an EA include:

(1) Specific spacecraft development and space flight projects/programs (as defined in Appendix A to this subpart).

(2) Actions altering the ongoing operations at a NASA Center which could lead directly, indirectly, or cumulatively to substantial natural or physical environmental impacts.

(3) Construction or modifications of facilities which are not minor.

(4) Proposed actions that are expected to result in significant changes to established land use.

(5) A space flight project/program that would return extraterrestrial samples to Earth from solar system bodies (such as asteroids, comets, planets, dwarf planets, and planetary moons), which would likely receive an Unrestricted Earth Return categorization (as defined in Appendix A to this subpart) from NASA's Planetary Protection Office (PPO) or the NASA Planetary Protection Subcommittee prior to the return of samples to the Earth.

Actions normally requiring an EIS.

(a) NASA will prepare an EIS for actions with the potential to significantly impact the quality of the human environment, including actions for which an EA analysis demonstrates that significant impacts will potentially occur which will not be reduced or eliminated by changes to the proposed action or mitigation of its potentially significant impacts.

(b) Typical NASA actions normally requiring an EIS include:

(1) Development and operation of new launch vehicles or space transportation systems.

(2) [Reserved]

(c) Development and operation of a space flight project/program which would launch and operate a nuclear reactor or radioisotope power systems and devices using a total quantity of radioactive material greater than the quantity for which the NASA Nuclear Flight Safety Assurance Manager may grant nuclear safety launch approval (i.e., a total quantity of radioactive material for which the A2 Mission Multiple (see definitions in Appendix A to this subpart) is greater than 10)).

(d) Development and operation of a space flight project/program which would return samples to Earth from solar system bodies (such as asteroids, comets, planets, dwarf planets, and planetary moons), which would likely receive a Restricted Earth Return categorization (as defined in Appendix A to this subpart) from the NASA Planetary Protection Office or the NASA Planetary Protection Subcommittee.

(e) Substantial modification of a NASA facility's master plan in a manner expected to result in significant effect(s) on the quality of the human environment.

(f) Substantial construction projects expected to result in significant effect(s) on the quality of the human environment, when such construction and its effects are not within the scope of an existing master plan and EIS.

Programmatic EAs, and EISs, and tiering.

NASA encourages the analysis of actions at the programmatic level for those programs similar in nature or broad in scope. Programmatic NEPA analyses may take place in the form of an EA or EIS. These documents allow “tiering” of NEPA documentation for subsequent or specific actions.

Supplemental EAs and EISs.

As detailed in CEQ regulations, supplemental documentation may be required for previous EAs or EISs (see 40 CFR 1502.9). If changed circumstances require preparation of a supplemental EA or EIS, such document will be prepared following the same general process as the original EA or EIS. No new scoping is required for a supplemental EIS; however, NASA may choose to conduct scoping.

Mitigation and monitoring.

When the analysis proceeds to an EA or EIS and mitigation measures are selected to avoid or reduce environmental impacts, such mitigation measures will be identified in the EA/FONSI or the EIS Record of Decision (ROD). NASA will implement mitigation measures (including adaptive management strategies, where appropriate) consistent with applicable FONSIs and/or RODs and will monitor their implementation and effectiveness. The Responsible Official will ensure that funding requests for such mitigation measures are included in the program or project budget.

Classified actions.

(a) Classification does not relieve NASA of the requirement to assess, document, and consider the environmental impacts of a proposed action.

(b) When classified information can reasonably be separated from other information and a meaningful environmental analysis can be produced, unclassified documents will be prepared and processed in accordance with these regulations. Classified portions will be kept separate and provided to properly cleared reviewers and decision makers in the form of a properly classified document that meets the requirements of these regulations to the extent permitted, given such classification.

Emergency responses.

(a) When the Responsible Official determines that an emergency exists that makes it necessary to take urgently needed actions before preparing a NEPA analysis and any required documentation, in accordance with the provisions in §§ 1216.305 and 1216.307 of this subpart, then the following provisions apply:

(1) The Responsible Official may take urgently needed actions that are necessary to control the immediate impacts of the emergency needed to mitigate harm to life, property, or resources. When taking such actions, the Responsible Official shall, to the extent practical, mitigate foreseeable adverse environmental impacts.

(2) [Reserved]

(b) At the earliest practicable time, the Responsible Official shall also notify the SEO of the emergency situation and the action(s) taken. The SEO will determine the appropriate NEPA action associated with the urgent actions taken as a result of the emergency. If the urgent actions will reasonably result in significant environmental impacts, the SEO will consult with the CEQ to ensure compliance with 40 CFR 1506.11 as soon as is reasonable.

(c) If the Responsible Official proposes emergency actions which continue beyond the urgent actions taken as a result of the emergency, and these actions are not categorically excluded, the Responsible Official will consult with the SEO to determine the appropriate level of NEPA compliance. If continuation of the emergency actions will reasonably result in significant environmental impacts, the SEO will consult with the CEQ to ensure compliance with 40 CFR 1506.11 as soon as is reasonable.

Appendix A to Subpart 1206.3—Acronyms and Definitions

CatEx  Categorical Exclusion

CEQ  Council on Environmental Quality

CFR  Code of Federal Regulations

CWA  Clean Water Act

CZMA  Coastal Zone Management Act

DoI  (U.S.) Department of the Interior

EA  Environmental Assessment

EMD  Environmental Management Division

EIS  Environmental Impact Statement

FONSI  Finding of No Significant Impact

FR  Federal Register

GSA  General Services Administration

NEPA  National Environmental Policy Act

NHPA  National Historic Preservation Act

SEO  Senior Environmental Official

OGC  Office of the General Counsel

PPO  Planetary Protection Office

REC  Record of Environmental Consideration

ROD  Record of Decision

U.S.C.  United States Code


1. A2 Mission Multiple—The A2 Mission Multiple is a calculated value based on the total amount of radioactive material being launched. This value is used in defining the level of review and approval required for launch.

2. Earth Return Mission (also known as a Sample Return)—A subcategory of missions that would collect extraterrestrial materials from solar system bodies and return them to Earth.

3. NASA Senior Environmental Official—The Senior NASA Headquarters Official responsible for providing executive and functional leadership for environmental compliance. As of January 1, 2011, the SEO is the Assistant Administrator for Strategic Infrastructure.

4. Record of Environmental Consideration—A brief document that is used to describe a proposed action, identify the applicable categorical exclusion, and explain why further environmental analysis is not required.

5. Restricted Earth Return—A subcategory of Earth Return Missions which requires additional measures to ensure that any potential indigenous life form would be contained so that it could not impact humans or Earth's environment.

6. Space Flight Projects/Programs—Those NASA actions that develop products intended for use in space and/or that support ground and space operations for products in space.

7. Unrestricted Earth Return—NASA Procedural Requirements define this as a subcategory of Earth Return Missions that would collect extraterrestrial materials from solar system bodies (deemed by scientific opinion to have no indigenous life forms) and return those samples to Earth. No planetary protection measures are required for the inbound (return to Earth) phase of the mission.

Dated: December 23, 2011.

Charles F. Bolden, Jr.,

Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

[FR Doc. 2012-1272 Filed 1-20-12; 8:45 am]