The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires an evaluation of environmental impact to be conducted for any proposed federal undertaking. Thus, any action or project that is funded (in whole or in part), licensed, supported, or conducted by any federal agency must be evaluated to assess its effects on the environment.
Examples of projects subject to NEPA review include: the expansion of an airport (regulated by FAA), most highway/roadway projects (funded by FHA), the development of a communication tower (licensed by FCC), timber plans on BLM land (managed by DOI), and redevelopment housing grants (funded by HUD).
DEA’s highly trained professionals can assist you in evaluating whether your proposed federally regulated project may have an adverse or significant impact the environment.
NEPA compliance usually begins with an evaluation of significant environmental areas to determine if the project can be categorically excluded from further review. If potential environmental impacts are identified, DEA will work with you to avoid these impacts, possibly by modifying the project design, or developing a mitigation strategy to offset the impacts.
If avoidance is unfeasible an Environmental Assessment is required to be prepared and submitted to the lead federal agency. The Environmental Assessment consists of a more detailed analysis of the identified potential impacts, with the goal of establishing that the proposed project will not have a significant impact, or that proposed mitigation adequately offsets the impact. The intended goal is for the lead federal agency to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) allowing the project to proceed.
For large scale projects, and in rare cases for smaller projects where a significant impact may occur, an Environmental Impact Statement may be required by the lead federal agency.
Depending on the scale of the project and which federal agency is involved with the process, the following areas may be evaluated during the NEPA process:
- Designated Wildlife Preserves and Wilderness Areas
- Threatened and Endangered Species
- Migratory Birds
- Federal and/or State wetlands
- Flood plains
- Historic, Cultural and Archaeological Resources
- Cultural Resources and Traditional Cultural Properties of Native American Tribes
- Environmental Justice
- Socioeconomic Issues
- Public Health, Safety and Infrastructure.