Articles in Category: NEPA


NEPA - National Environmental Policy Act

Developing an EIS - Step by Step

The National Environmental Policy Act was signed into law by President Nixon in 1969. The Act declares a national policy to "...encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; [and] to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation...".

NEPA imposes no requirements on the public. Rather, it directs Federal agencies to "utilize a systematic, interdisciplinary approach ... in planning and decision making which may have an impact on man's environment", to insure that “ environmental amenities and values ... be given appropriate consideration in decision making along with economic and technical considerations", and to "study, develop, and describe appropriate alternatives to recommended courses of action...". This mandate applies to all "Federal actions". As a result, NEPA affects virtually all decisions regarding the use of the public lands.

NEPA - The Basics

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

NEPA requires that federal agencies will consider the impacts of  actions on the human environment before decisions are made and the before action is taken. It requires that NEPA documents concentrate on issues that are significant to the action in question. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make better decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the human environment.

NEPA does not mandate protection of the environment. Instead, it requires agencies to follow a particular process in making decisions and to disclose the information/data that was used to support those decisions.

NEPA mandates that each agency develop procedures for implementing the basic NEPA requirements. The agencies’ procedures are adopted as federal regulations after input from the public and approval of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Agencies can also develop policy to complement their regulations.

NEPA requires agencies to follow a three-step review process:

NEPA Explained

Keeping trails and areas depends on access.  Keeping that access depends on land management policies and procedures, which depend on environmental issues and concerns.  Those environmental issues and concerns are reviewed through NEPA.

So, what is “NEPA”?  NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, became law on January 1, 1970 and is the basic national charter for protecting the environment.  Ten years in making, NEPA is the controlling guidance for federal agencies for virtually any activity undertaken, funded, or permitted that affects the environment.  All federal agencies are covered by NEPA and share some common procedures; however, each agency has different specific rules defining their NEPA process.

Key Point: NEPA applies to any activity for all federal agencies.

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