Maximum Contaminant Levels

Maximum Contaminant Levels in the United States

Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) in Environmental Law

An EIS must be prepared for “federal actions” unless the agency can demonstrate that the project will have no significant impact on the environment [see finding of no significant impact]. Any project that requires a permit from a federal agency is considered a federal action.

Guidelines for an EIS

The primary authority under the National Environmental Policy Act is the Council on Environmental Quality. That agency creates the regulations and oversees their implementation. The council has developed a recommended format and requires the following information: a discussion of environmental impacts, adverse environmental impacts that cannot be avoided, alternatives to the project, the relationship between short-term uses and long-term productivity, and irreversible commitments of resources. Of all the elements, the alternatives section is the most important.

Mechanics of an EIS

When a federal action is proposed, the agency involved must publish a notice of intent in the Federal Register. If more than one agency is involved, the agency with the most involvement becomes the lead agency.

Scoping is the next step, in which the agency determines the scope of the EIS. The agency must invite the public as well as the state, other agencies with expertise or concern, local governments, and affected tribal governments to participate in the process, along with the affected party and interested persons. During the scoping, the agency eliminates issues, determines the significant ones, sets limits on time and process.

The agency then reviews information in the first document prepared to determine whether the EIS was required (the environmental assessment). It begins to gather information from many sources and prepare the report. The agency must respond to any comments it gets and they must be attached to the EIS. After the agency prepares a draft and it goes through a period of public notice and comment, it is finalized. Then the agency must consider it, along with mitigation and alternatives, when it makes its decision.


If an agency proposes legislation, an EIS must be prepared within 30 days of transmittal to Congress. Usually it is only a draft. However, if the president originates the proposed legislation, no EIS is required, since executive office actions are not included in the definition of federal actions. Another exclusion is appropriations bills, which means that cutting the budget of an agency with environmental responsibilities does not require an EIS.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Maximum Contaminant Levels: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Maximum Contaminant Levels. This part provides references, in relation to Maximum Contaminant Levels, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Maximum Contaminant Levels by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Maximum Contaminant Levels and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Maximum Contaminant Levels or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Maximum Contaminant Levels and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Maximum Contaminant Levels. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Maximum Contaminant Levels should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Maximum Contaminant Levels when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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