Science Support

515-1-H, Environmental Management and Compliance Requirements Handbook

Prepared by: Office of Administration, Office of Management Services, Environmental Management Branch

August 2016

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Every American, as well as every organization in America, is obligated to protect the environment.   The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is continually striving to ensure preservation of this core value.

The incorporation of aggressive environmental protection measures into the workplace is a sound business practice.   We cannot afford the waste, expense, or harm to our people and the scarce natural resources. Preserving and conserving today results in spending less on cleanup activities and compliance costs tomorrow and preserves scarce resources for future generations.   It is critical to integrate environmental policies and directives into our daily operations and implement them throughout the organization.

Environmental protection is a responsibility of every employee and a key task for every manager.   Managers have specific legal responsibilities under the provisions of environmental laws and regulations, detailed in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and USGS policies.   The USGS developed a comprehensive environmental management program that focuses on maximizing our efforts in preventing pollution; protecting air, water, and soil quality; and caring for the historic sites and natural resources at USGS locations in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations.

This handbook replaces Environmental Management and Compliance Requirements Handbook 445-1-H dated June 2002, expands Survey Manual (SM) Chapter 515.1, Environmental Policy and Responsibilities, and is a cornerstone of our environmental compliance program.   This handbook has been developed to provide staff with a single user-friendly document that incorporates both the DOI and USGS policy requirements. New USGS chapters issued in the future will be incorporated in sequential order. Updates and revisions to chapter content will be highlighted in Appendix A, Fiscal Year Changes Summary, with the last revision date annotated in the Table of Contents. The Environmental Management Branch (EMB) will post future manual changes or additions as they occur on the USGS Office of Policy and Analysis and EMB SharePoint sites. 

The EMB will coordinate future updates, additions, or changes to proposed guidance through respective field office and science center chiefs, administrative officers, and managers for review and comment prior to making changes to the handbook.   The USGS Sustainability Council will provide a review prior to bureauwide review.   The Senior Sustainability Officer (SSO) will provide final approval.

Together, the USGS 515-1-H – Environmental Compliance and Protection Handbook and USGS Survey Manual Chapter 515.1 – Environmental Compliance constitute the USGS environmental policy.   Additionally, the USGS adopts policy by reference (such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) regulations; DOI Series 31 Departmental Manuals on Environmental Quality Programs (Parts DM 515 – DM 523); and USGS Survey Manual 515.4 – Environmental Management System).

New Departmental policies issued in the future will be incorporated as part of this handbook.

The EMB will serve as the administrator of this manual.   Questions or recommended changes to this handbook may be directed to the USGS Environmental Compliance Program Manager.


Click here to view the full version of 515-1-H. Contact if you need assistance or additional information.


/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                                                August 23, 2016

_______________________________________________                                _______________________________________

Jose R. Aragon                                                                                                     Date
Associate Director for Administration



Reference and requirements to Executive Order (EO) 13690 – Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input (January 30, 2015), and H. 520 DM 1, Floodplain Management and Wetlands Protection Procedures were added.

A direct link to the Yellow Book: Guide to Environmental Enforcement and Compliance at Federal Facilities (EPA 315-B-98-011, February 1999) was removed because EPA no longer has a direct link to the Yellow Book. The Yellow Book, renamed to EPA’s Guide to Enforcement and Compliance at Federal Facilities, is located on the EPA Federal Facilities Enforcement Office (FFEO) site.

Updated the following links: GHS,, and

Changed the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) terminology to Safety Data Sheet (SDS) as prescribed by Globally Harmonized System standards.