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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Overview of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Requirements

Kristina Alexander
Legislative Attorney

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) establishes environmental policies that apply to the federal government, but it is best known for imposing environmental review procedures on federal agency actions. NEPA requires agencies to review the potential environmental impacts of their projects, recording their review in a publicly available document. There are three types of environmental documents, based on the type of review: a categorical exclusion (CE), an environmental assessment (EA), and an environmental impact statement (EIS). Tiering, programmatic, and supplemental documents are subsets of these original documents.

The act dictates procedure, not results. NEPA requires agencies to follow the process so that their decisions are informed. Agencies are required to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts, not to meet set environmental standards nor to choose the project with the least environmental consequence. This report is intended as a general introduction to NEPA, analyzing what NEPA requires for those three types of environmental documents.

Date of Report: January 12, 2011
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS20621
Price: $19.95

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