Endangered Species
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NEPA Fact Sheet

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What is NEPA?
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) creates a national environmental policy with goals for the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of the environment, and also establishes a process for federal agencies to implement these goals.  Under NEPA, the “environment” includes both the biological and physical environment as well as the social environment. The main objective of NEPA is to ensure that federal agencies consider potential environmental impacts of proposed actions, and alternatives to those actions, within their decision-making process.

NEPA requires that federal agencies:

  • Provide opportunities for public involvement, which may include participating in scoping, reviewing the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and attending public meetings.
  • Incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making process, using a systematic and interdisciplinary approach.
  • Formally assess the environmental impacts of their actions and consider all reasonable alternatives.
  • NEPA does not dictate the decision to be made by the federal agency.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
An EIS is the most detailed and comprehensive environmental analysis specified under NEPA.  It focuses on significant environmental (biological, physical, social) impacts of the proposed action and/or alternatives. The purpose of this EIS is to objectively analyze and evaluate the potential significant impacts of both the proposed action and a range of alternatives to the proposed action (including the “no action” alternative).

Specifically, the EIS will include descriptions of: 

  • Proposed Action
  • Purpose and need for the Proposed Action
  • Alternatives
  • Affected environment
  • Environmental consequences of the Proposed Action and alternatives
  • Required mitigation or recommended best management practices

Major steps in preparing the EIS include:

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Last updated: April 1, 2014