Assessment of impacts to cultural resources is required by both NEPA and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
- NEPA requires that impacts to the "human environment" be considered when developing a federally-funded transportation project. Within this context, cultural resources may take on a variety of forms, including community centers, churches, or local fairgrounds.
- Section 106 requires that the effects to "historic properties" be taken into account. Historic property is a specific term under the law for any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure (for example, a bridge), or object included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an American Indian tribe or living community may also receive a determination of eligible for listing in the National Register. There is a Programmatic Agreement in place between FHWA, SCDOT, SHPO, and the ACHP that streamlines the consultation and SHPO concurrence processes for certain types of transportation projects.
- Federally funded SCDOT projects that involve the use of a historic property must be evaluated under Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act. Unlike other Section 4(f) categories, historic properties do not require public ownership to qualify as a Section 4(f) property.
The CEQ regulations encourage integration of the NEPA process with other environmental processes (40 CFR §1501.2). The regulations that implement Section 106 of the NHPA also encourage coordination of Section 106 review with NEPA (36 CFR §800.8(a)(1)).