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Environmental Impact Statements: Getting Started

guide to finding environmental impact statements and environmental assessments



DEIS = Draft Environmental Impact Statement

EIS = Environmental Impact Statement

NEPA = National Environmental Policy Act

National Environmental Policy Act

In 1969, NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act, was one of the first laws ever written that establishes a broad national framework for protecting our environment. NEPA's basic policy is to assure that all branches of government give proper consideration to the environment prior to undertaking any major federal action that could significantly affect the environment.

NEPA requirements go into effect when airports, buildings, military complexes, highways, parkland purchases and other federal activities with the potential for impacts are proposed. Environmental assessments (EA's) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS's), which are assessments of the likelihood of impacts from alternative courses of action, are required from all federal agencies and are the most visible NEPA requirements.

NEPA establishes the requirement that all federal agencies' funding or permitting decisions be made with full consideration of the impact to the natural and human environment. And it requires agencies disclose these impacts to interested parties and the general public. The central element in the environmental review process is a rigorous evaluation of alternatives including the "no action" alternative.

At EPA New England, the region's Office of Environmental Review is responsible for NEPA.

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