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July 31, 2017: New NIGC Policy on NEPA Review of Management Contracts.

For a number of years, the NIGC has been pretty tortured about what to do with management company approvals. They typically do not require an EIS or an EA be prepared for a management contract proposal, but they have had a hard time formalizing a consistent policy. After a recent comment period and a number of tribal consultations in 2015, the NIGC formally announced today that management contracts that meet certain criteria do not have to go through a NEPA analysis. In other words, most management contracts are now eligible for a Categorical Exclusion (from NEPA analysis). This new policy, however, has an exception for “extraordinary circumstances.” If one of the extraordinary circumstances applies, then the Categorical Exclusion does not apply and the management contractor has to develop an EIS or an EA. One of the exceptions is when “[t]he proposed action/project has effects on the environment that involve risks that are highly uncertain, unique, or are scientifically controversial.” Another exception applies when “[t]he proposed action/project violates one or more federal, tribal, state, or local environmental laws, regulations, permit requirements, or Executive Order.” (See page 35544, Category 3-Management Contract, Extraordinary Circumstances, B&C)

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