The Environmental Review process can be lengthy when it requires either a Statutory Checklist or Environmental Assessment. (See Levels of Review for more information.) This includes contacting required reviewing agencies about the project, conducting other required research, and preparing the final review for submission to the funding agency.
For any project requiring a Statutory Checklist or Environmental Assessment, project planners should budget at least four months for the environmental review once the site is chosen and a full description of the project activities is available to the review preparer.
Four months for final Environmental Approval and release of funds is a best case scenario time frame. There are mandatory review and comment periods built into the process which are unavoidable. In addition, once the review has been prepared and submitted to the funding agency, the turnaround time for preliminary review depends on the workload at the funding agency. After this, public notices concerning the project must be posted and these have mandatory comment periods.
No funds can be spent on any project activities which are subject to the Environmental Review process until the letter indicating final approval of the environmental review and the release of funds is received from the funding agency.