Difference between revisions of "National Environmental Policy Act"

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==Overview==
 
==Overview==
  
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was the first federal statute to use the “impact statement” approach in federal regulation. Its purpose is to require federal agencies to analyze and consider the environmental impact of their actions in an open and public process. The Act also created the Council on Environmental Quality within the Executive Office of the President.
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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was the first federal statute to use the “impact statement” approach in federal regulation. Its purpose is to require federal agencies to analyze and consider the environmental impact of their actions in an open and public process. NEPA also created the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within the Executive Office of the President.
  
 
===Environmental Impact Statements===  
 
===Environmental Impact Statements===  
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===Council on Environmental Quality Role===
 
===Council on Environmental Quality Role===
  
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), created by title 11 of the Act, is the legal overseer of NEPA and in its early years was active in shaping NEPA law. Until 2000, it prepared extensive annual environmental quality reports pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 4341, which was effectively repealed in that year. The Council took the lead in developing appropriate procedures for EIS preparation. In President Nixon’s [https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/nepapub/nepa_documents/RedDont/Req-EO11514envtlquality.pdf Executive Order 11,514] (Mar. 5, 1970), issued shortly after NEPA’s passage, he gave CEQ the authority to issue guidelines to agencies for the preparation of EISs. The CEQ’s original guidelines (36 Fed. Reg. 7724-29 (Apr. 23, 1971)) were nonbinding but were relied upon by most federal agencies when promulgating their own procedures. In 1977 President Carter significantly expanded CEQ’s authority by giving it the power to issue binding regulations in Executive Order 11,991 (May 24, 1977). These regulations, issued on November 28, 1978 (43 Fed. Reg. 55,978–56,007), are codified at 40 C.F.R Parts 1500–1508 and are contained in the Appendix to this chapter. The Supreme Court has since treated these regulations as deserving substantial deference. ''See'' [https://cdn.loc.gov/service/ll/usrep/usrep442/usrep442347/usrep442347.pdf Andrus v. Sierra Club], 442 U.S. 347 (1979).
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The CEQ, created by title 11 of the Act, is the legal overseer of NEPA and in its early years was active in shaping NEPA law. Until 2000, it prepared extensive annual environmental quality reports pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 4341, which was effectively repealed in that year. The Council took the lead in developing appropriate procedures for EIS preparation. In President Nixon’s [https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/nepapub/nepa_documents/RedDont/Req-EO11514envtlquality.pdf Executive Order 11,514] (Mar. 5, 1970), issued shortly after NEPA’s passage, he gave CEQ the authority to issue guidelines to agencies for the preparation of EISs. The CEQ’s original guidelines (36 Fed. Reg. 7724-29 (Apr. 23, 1971)) were nonbinding but were relied upon by most federal agencies when promulgating their own procedures. In 1977 President Carter significantly expanded CEQ’s authority by giving it the power to issue binding regulations in Executive Order 11,991 (May 24, 1977). These regulations, issued on November 28, 1978 (43 Fed. Reg. 55,978–56,007), are codified at 40 C.F.R Parts 1500–1508 and are contained in the Appendix to this chapter. The Supreme Court has since treated these regulations as deserving substantial deference. ''See'' [https://cdn.loc.gov/service/ll/usrep/usrep442/usrep442347/usrep442347.pdf Andrus v. Sierra Club], 442 U.S. 347 (1979).
  
 
The CEQ regulations cover many of the procedural issues that have emerged in the extensive litigation over the meaning of the Act’s terms. The regulations provide comprehensive guidance on what constitutes a “major federal action” requiring an EIS, the preparation of draft, supplemental and final statements, page limits, recommended format and content (all in [https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1502&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R Part 1502]); the comment process ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1503&rgn=div5 Part 1503]); predecision referral of interagency disputes to CEQ ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1504&rgn=div5 Part 1504]); integration with agency decisionmaking ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1505&rgn=div5 Part 1505]); elimination of duplication with state and local requirements and procedures for filing with EPA ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1506&rgn=div5 Part 1506]); and agency compliance ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1507&rgn=div5 Part 1507]).
 
The CEQ regulations cover many of the procedural issues that have emerged in the extensive litigation over the meaning of the Act’s terms. The regulations provide comprehensive guidance on what constitutes a “major federal action” requiring an EIS, the preparation of draft, supplemental and final statements, page limits, recommended format and content (all in [https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1502&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R Part 1502]); the comment process ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1503&rgn=div5 Part 1503]); predecision referral of interagency disputes to CEQ ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1504&rgn=div5 Part 1504]); integration with agency decisionmaking ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1505&rgn=div5 Part 1505]); elimination of duplication with state and local requirements and procedures for filing with EPA ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1506&rgn=div5 Part 1506]); and agency compliance ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c64f34d636120c3d7582b76398ac7103&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1507&rgn=div5 Part 1507]).
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Federal agencies have promulgated their own individualized regulations within the parameters set by the CEQ regulations. See the Code of Federal Regulations Index (“environmental impact statements”) for a list of citations to agency regulations.
 
Federal agencies have promulgated their own individualized regulations within the parameters set by the CEQ regulations. See the Code of Federal Regulations Index (“environmental impact statements”) for a list of citations to agency regulations.
 
<div style="column-count:3;-moz-column-count:3;-webkit-column-count:3">
 
<div style="column-count:3;-moz-column-count:3;-webkit-column-count:3">
*Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt36.3.805&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 805])
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*'''Advisory Council on Historic Preservation''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt36.3.805&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 805])
*Agency for International Development ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt22.1.216&rgn=div5 22 C.F.R. Part 216])  
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*'''Agency for International Development''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt22.1.216&rgn=div5 22 C.F.R. Part 216])  
*Agricultural Research Service ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.6.520&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 520])  
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*'''Agricultural Research Service''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.6.520&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 520])  
*Agriculture Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.1.1b&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 1b])  
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*'''Agriculture Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.1.1b&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 1b])  
*Air Force Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt32.6.989&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 989])  
+
*'''Air Force Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt32.6.989&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 989])  
*Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.5.372&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 372])  
+
*'''Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt7.5.372&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 372])  
*Army Corps of Engineers ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt33.3.230&rgn=div5 33 C.F.R. Part 230])  
+
*'''Army Corps of Engineers''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt33.3.230&rgn=div5 33 C.F.R. Part 230])  
*Army Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt32.4.651&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 651])  
+
*'''Army Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt32.4.651&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 651])  
*Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt41.1.51_67&rgn=div5 41 C.F.R. Part 51–7])
+
*'''Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=fdd252187d35762f68a91394c813f73a&mc=true&node=pt41.1.51_67&rgn=div5 41 C.F.R. Part 51–7])
*Community Development Financial Institutions Fund ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt12.10.1815&rgn=div5 12 C.F.R. Part 1815])  
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*'''Community Development Financial Institutions Fund''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt12.10.1815&rgn=div5 12 C.F.R. Part 1815])  
*Consumer Product Safety Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt16.2.1021&rgn=div5 16 C.F.R. Part 1021])  
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*'''Consumer Product Safety Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt16.2.1021&rgn=div5 16 C.F.R. Part 1021])  
*Denali Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt45.3.900&rgn=div5 45 C.F.R. Part 900])  
+
*'''Denali Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt45.3.900&rgn=div5 45 C.F.R. Part 900])  
*Energy Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt10.4.1021&rgn=div5 10 C.F.R. Part 1021])  
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*'''Energy Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt10.4.1021&rgn=div5 10 C.F.R. Part 1021])  
*Environmental Protection Agency  
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*'''Environmental Protection Agency'''
 
**Procedures for Implementing NEPA ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.1.6&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 6])  
 
**Procedures for Implementing NEPA ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.1.6&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 6])  
 
**Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.1.8&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 8])  
 
**Environmental Impact Assessment of Nongovernmental Activities in Antarctica ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.1.8&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 8])  
 
**Criteria for the Evaluation of Permit Applications for Ocean Dumping of Materials ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.27.227&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 227])  
 
**Criteria for the Evaluation of Permit Applications for Ocean Dumping of Materials ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.27.227&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 227])  
*Environmental Quality Council  
+
*'''Environmental Quality Council'''
 
**Purpose, Policy, and Mandate ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1500&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1500])
 
**Purpose, Policy, and Mandate ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1500&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1500])
 
**NEPA and Agency Planning ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1501&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1501])
 
**NEPA and Agency Planning ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1501&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1501])
Line 195: Line 195:
 
**Terminology and Index ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1508&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1508])  
 
**Terminology and Index ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1508&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1508])  
 
**Office of Environmental Quality Management Fund ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1518&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1518])  
 
**Office of Environmental Quality Management Fund ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt40.37.1518&rgn=div5 40 C.F.R. Part 1518])  
*Export-Import Bank ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt12.5.408&rgn=div5 12 C.F.R. Part 408])  
+
*'''Export-Import Bank''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt12.5.408&rgn=div5 12 C.F.R. Part 408])  
*Farm Service Agency ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.7.799&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 799])  
+
*'''Farm Service Agency''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.7.799&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 799])  
*USDA Rural Development ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.14.1970&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 1970])  
+
*'''USDA Rural Development''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.14.1970&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 1970])  
*Federal Communications Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp47.1.1.i&rgn=div6 47 C.F.R. Part 1, Subpt. I])  
+
*'''Federal Communications Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp47.1.1.i&rgn=div6 47 C.F.R. Part 1, Subpt. I])  
*Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt18.1.380&rgn=div5 18 C.F.R. Part 380])  
+
*'''Federal Energy Regulatory Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt18.1.380&rgn=div5 18 C.F.R. Part 380])  
*Federal Highway Administration ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt23.1.771&rgn=div5 23 C.F.R. Part 771])  
+
*'''Federal Highway Administration''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt23.1.771&rgn=div5 23 C.F.R. Part 771])  
*Federal Maritime Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt46.9.504&rgn=div5 46 C.F.R. Part 504])  
+
*'''Federal Maritime Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt46.9.504&rgn=div5 46 C.F.R. Part 504])  
*Federal Trade Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp16.1.1.i&rgn=div6 16 C.F.R. Part 1, Subpt. I])  
+
*'''Federal Trade Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp16.1.1.i&rgn=div6 16 C.F.R. Part 1, Subpt. I])  
*Federal Transit Administration ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt23.1.771&rgn=div5 23 C.F.R. Part 771])
+
*'''Federal Transit Administration''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt23.1.771&rgn=div5 23 C.F.R. Part 771])
*Food and Drug Administration ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt21.1.25&rgn=div5 21 C.F.R. Part 25])  
+
*'''Food and Drug Administration''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt21.1.25&rgn=div5 21 C.F.R. Part 25])  
*Forest Service ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.2.220&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 220])  
+
*'''Forest Service''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.2.220&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 220])  
*Housing and Urban Development Department
+
*'''Housing and Urban Development Department'''
 
**Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=d883c54cce1263fa07b72070e3ac9b34&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24cfr50_main_02.tpl 24 C.F.R. Part 50])  
 
**Protection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=d883c54cce1263fa07b72070e3ac9b34&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24cfr50_main_02.tpl 24 C.F.R. Part 50])  
 
**Environmental Review Procedures for Entities Assuming HUD Environmental Responsibilities ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=d883c54cce1263fa07b72070e3ac9b34&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24cfr58_main_02.tpl 24 C.F.R. Part 58])  
 
**Environmental Review Procedures for Entities Assuming HUD Environmental Responsibilities ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=d883c54cce1263fa07b72070e3ac9b34&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24cfr58_main_02.tpl 24 C.F.R. Part 58])  
*Interior Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.1.46&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 46])  
+
*'''Interior Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.1.46&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 46])  
*Justice Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt28.2.61&rgn=div5 28 C.F.R. Part 61])  
+
*'''Justice Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt28.2.61&rgn=div5 28 C.F.R. Part 61])  
*Labor Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt29.1.11&rgn=div5 29 C.F.R. Part 11])  
+
*'''Labor Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt29.1.11&rgn=div5 29 C.F.R. Part 11])  
*Land Management Bureau ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.2.1600&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 1600])  
+
*'''Land Management Bureau''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.2.1600&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 1600])  
*Marine Mammal Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt50.11.530&rgn=div5 50 C.F.R. Part 530])  
+
*'''Marine Mammal Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt50.11.530&rgn=div5 50 C.F.R. Part 530])  
*National Aeronautics and Space Administration ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt14.5.1216&rgn=div5 14 C.F.R. Part 1216])  
+
*'''National Aeronautics and Space Administration''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt14.5.1216&rgn=div5 14 C.F.R. Part 1216])  
*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt49.6.520&rgn=div5 49 C.F.R. Part 520])  
+
*'''National Highway Traffic Safety Administration''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt49.6.520&rgn=div5 49 C.F.R. Part 520])  
*National Institute of Food and Agriculture ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.15.3407&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. 3407])  
+
*'''National Institute of Food and Agriculture''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.15.3407&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. 3407])  
*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Estuarine Research Reserve System ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=se15.3.921_113&rgn=div8 15 C.F.R. § 921.13])  
+
*'''National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Estuarine Research Reserve System''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=se15.3.921_113&rgn=div8 15 C.F.R. § 921.13])  
*National Science Foundation ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt45.3.640&rgn=div5 45 C.F.R. Part 640])  
+
*'''National Science Foundation''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt45.3.640&rgn=div5 45 C.F.R. Part 640])  
*Natural Resources Conservation Service ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.6.650&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 650])  
+
*'''Natural Resources Conservation Service''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt7.6.650&rgn=div5 7 C.F.R. Part 650])  
*Navy Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt32.5.775&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 775])  
+
*'''Navy Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt32.5.775&rgn=div5 32 C.F.R. Part 775])  
*Nuclear Regulatory Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt10.2.51&rgn=div5 10 C.F.R. Part 51])  
+
*'''Nuclear Regulatory Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt10.2.51&rgn=div5 10 C.F.R. Part 51])  
*Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.3.907&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 907])  
+
*'''Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.3.907&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 907])  
*Postal Service ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt39.1.775&rgn=div5 39 C.F.R. Part 775])  
+
*'''Postal Service''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt39.1.775&rgn=div5 39 C.F.R. Part 775])  
*Presidio Trust ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.3.1010&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 1010])  
+
*'''Presidio Trust''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt36.3.1010&rgn=div5 36 C.F.R. Part 1010])  
*Securities and Exchange Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp17.3.200.k&rgn=div6 17 C.F.R. Part 200, Subpt. K])  
+
*'''Securities and Exchange Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=sp17.3.200.k&rgn=div6 17 C.F.R. Part 200, Subpt. K])  
*State Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt22.1.161&rgn=div5 22 C.F.R. Part 161])  
+
*'''State Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt22.1.161&rgn=div5 22 C.F.R. Part 161])  
*Surface Transportation Board ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt49.8.1105&rgn=div5 49 C.F.R. Part 1105])  
+
*'''Surface Transportation Board''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt49.8.1105&rgn=div5 49 C.F.R. Part 1105])  
*Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.2.10010&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 10010])  
+
*'''Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt43.2.10010&rgn=div5 43 C.F.R. Part 10010])  
*Veterans Affairs Department ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt38.2.26&rgn=div5 38 C.F.R. Part 26])  
+
*'''Veterans Affairs Department''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt38.2.26&rgn=div5 38 C.F.R. Part 26])  
*Water Resources Council ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt18.2.707&rgn=div5 18 C.F.R. Part 707])
+
*'''Water Resources Council''' ([https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=a1f884a249de6fc78f751905b883e278&mc=true&node=pt18.2.707&rgn=div5 18 C.F.R. Part 707])
 
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Revision as of 13:39, 31 October 2018

42 U.S.C. §§ 4321–4347 (2012); enacted Jan. 1, 1970, by Pub. L. No. 91-190; 83 Stat. 852. Amended by Pub. L. No. 94-52, § 2, July 3, 1975, 89 Stat. 258; Pub. L. No. 94-83, Aug. 9, 1975, 89 Stat. 424; Pub. L. No. 112-141, Div. A, Title I, Subtitle C, § 1319, July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 551.

Lead Agency:

Council on Environmental Quality

Overview

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was the first federal statute to use the “impact statement” approach in federal regulation. Its purpose is to require federal agencies to analyze and consider the environmental impact of their actions in an open and public process. NEPA also created the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within the Executive Office of the President.

Environmental Impact Statements

The core of NEPA is found in section 102(2)(C) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C)), which creates the environmental impact statement (EIS) requirement. The provision requires that: "all agencies of the Federal Government . . . include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by the responsible official on—(i) the environmental impact of the proposed action, (ii) any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented, (iii) alternatives to the proposed action, (iv) the relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and (v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented."

The provision goes on to require the responsible federal official to consult with and seek comments from other affected agencies. Copies of the statements and relevant comments must be made public and must accompany the proposal through the agency review process.

Despite language in NEPA that might be construed otherwise, the Supreme Court has held that NEPA does not impose any substantive requirement on agencies to favor the environment in the agency’s decisionmaking. See Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council, Inc. v. Karlen, 444 U.S. 223 (1980). Notwithstanding the lack of substantive requirements, NEPA has been the source of an extremely large number of challenges to agency action, arguing either that the agency failed to prepare an EIS when NEPA required it or that the EIS that the agency prepared was inadequate. Even after 45 years, agencies frequently lose these suits, with the result that the agency action is enjoined until the agency fully complies with NEPA’s procedural requirements.

Council on Environmental Quality Role

The CEQ, created by title 11 of the Act, is the legal overseer of NEPA and in its early years was active in shaping NEPA law. Until 2000, it prepared extensive annual environmental quality reports pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 4341, which was effectively repealed in that year. The Council took the lead in developing appropriate procedures for EIS preparation. In President Nixon’s Executive Order 11,514 (Mar. 5, 1970), issued shortly after NEPA’s passage, he gave CEQ the authority to issue guidelines to agencies for the preparation of EISs. The CEQ’s original guidelines (36 Fed. Reg. 7724-29 (Apr. 23, 1971)) were nonbinding but were relied upon by most federal agencies when promulgating their own procedures. In 1977 President Carter significantly expanded CEQ’s authority by giving it the power to issue binding regulations in Executive Order 11,991 (May 24, 1977). These regulations, issued on November 28, 1978 (43 Fed. Reg. 55,978–56,007), are codified at 40 C.F.R Parts 1500–1508 and are contained in the Appendix to this chapter. The Supreme Court has since treated these regulations as deserving substantial deference. See Andrus v. Sierra Club, 442 U.S. 347 (1979).

The CEQ regulations cover many of the procedural issues that have emerged in the extensive litigation over the meaning of the Act’s terms. The regulations provide comprehensive guidance on what constitutes a “major federal action” requiring an EIS, the preparation of draft, supplemental and final statements, page limits, recommended format and content (all in 40 C.F.R Part 1502); the comment process (Part 1503); predecision referral of interagency disputes to CEQ (Part 1504); integration with agency decisionmaking (Part 1505); elimination of duplication with state and local requirements and procedures for filing with EPA (Part 1506); and agency compliance (Part 1507).

In addition to the regulations, CEQ also provided continuing guidance to agencies on implementation of NEPA. For example, in 1981 it published the Memorandum to Agencies Containing Answers to 40 Most Asked Questions on NEPA Regulations. In April 1981 it issued a Memorandum for General Counsels, NEPA Liaisons and Participants in Scoping on the subject of “scoping guidance.” In 1983, after a solicitation of comments on the existing regulations and a two-year review process, the Council published a supplemental memorandum giving further guidance to agencies. In 1993, it issued a guidance memorandum on the subject of pollution prevention and NEPA. In 1997, it issued two guidance memoranda, one on cumulative effects analysis under NEPA and the other on considering environmental justice under NEPA. In 2002, CEQ established a NEPA Task Force to undertake a thorough review of NEPA implementation. The Task Force’s report, Modernizing NEPA Implementation, was issued a year later. It contained recommendations designed to modernize the implementation of NEPA and make the NEPA process more effective and efficient.

More recently, CEQ has provided guidance on the use of categorical exclusions (in which agencies may exempt certain actions from NEPA review) and on the use of mitigating measures to avoid a finding of significant impact on the environment. In addition, in 2010 it issued draft guidance on how to consider the effects of climate change with respect to federal actions. On December 18, 2014, a revised guidance document was published for comment. The comment period closed on March 25, 2015. According to the CEQ website:

This guidance explains that agencies should consider both the potential effects of a proposed action on climate change, as indicated by its estimated greenhouse gas emissions, and the implications of climate change for the environmental effects of a proposed action. The guidance also emphasizes that agency analyses should be commensurate with projected greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts, and should employ appropriate quantitative or qualitative analytical methods to ensure useful information is available to inform the public and the decision-making process in distinguishing between alternatives and mitigations. It recommends that agencies consider 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions on an annual basis as a reference point below which a quantitative analysis of greenhouse gas is not recommended unless it is easily accomplished based on available tools and data. Unlike the 2010 draft guidance, the revised draft guidance applies to all proposed Federal agency actions, including land and resource management actions. It reflects CEQ’s consideration of comments received on the 2010 draft guidance in addition to other Federal agency and affected stakeholder input. It does not create new or additional regulatory requirements.

The CEQ also compiles annual data on the number of environmental impact statements filed by agencies and the trends in NEPA litigation, which is available on CEQ's website.

Originally, under 42 U.S.C. § 4342, the CEQ consisted of three members appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, one of whom the President designated as chairman. However, beginning in 1997, Congress inserted a provision in annual appropriations acts stating that, notwithstanding this section of NEPA, the CEQ would consist of one member appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, who should serve as chairman.

Legislative History

Senators Henry M. Jackson (D-WA) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced S. 1075, the original NEPA legislation, on February 18, 1969. It authorized the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a research program on environmental problems and created the Council on Environmental Quality. A hearing was held April 16, 1969 during which witnesses (primarily Lynton Caldwell, professor of political science at Indiana University) urged the creation of an “action-forcing” mechanism, which later became the environmental impact statement. S. 1075 was reported with amendments and an accompanying report of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs on July 9, 1969. The following day the bill passed the Senate unanimously.

A House of Representatives’ subcommittee of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries held a series of hearings during May and June 1969 on various related bills. On July 1, 1969, Representative John Dingell (D-MI) and others introduced H.R. 12549, which became the leading House bill. It, however, lacked the impact statement requirement. On July 11, 1969, the full Committee reported H.R. 12549. A supplemental report was filed on July 19. On September 23, 1969, the House passed the Senate bill, but only after substituting the text of the House bill in place of the Senate’s language. It then requested a conference.

On October 8, 1969, after listening to Senator Jackson address the differences between the two versions, the Senate voted to insist on its version and appointed conferees. On December 17, 1969, the conference committee reported out a substitute version of S. 1075. This compromise version accepted the Senate’s environmental impact statement requirement, adding the language “to the fullest extent possible.” That same day, the Senate approved the Conference Report. The House followed suit on December 23. The bill became Pub. L. No. 91-190 on January 1, 1970.

Section 201 of NEPA, 42 U.S.C. § 4341, which required the President to transmit an annual report to Congress relating to the environment, was eliminated by the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-66, § 3003, 109 Stat. 707 (1995), as amended by Pub. L. No. 106-113, Div. B, § 1000(a)(5), 113 Stat. 1536 (1999).

Section 202 of NEPA, 42 U.S.C. § 4342, was effectively amended, although its language was not changed, by a series of annual riders to appropriation acts beginning in 1997 and culminating in a permanent rider to an appropriation act in 2005 that states: “That notwithstanding section 202 of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, the Council shall consist of one member, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, serving as chairman and exercising all powers, functions, and duties of the Council.” See Pub. L. No. 109-54, Title III, 119 Stat. 543 (2005). This was apparently the consequence of President Clinton’s failure (or refusal) to appoint more than one member of the Council, see H.R. Rep. No. 104-628 104th Cong., 2d Sess. 70 (1996).

Section 4332a of Title 42 was added to NEPA by Section 1319 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. No. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405 (2012), a massive reauthorization of the federal highway program. Although contained in the federal highway authorization act in order to expedite environmental planning for new and expanded highways, the new provision applies generally to environmental planning.

Source Note

There is an extensive literature of commentary, criticism, and analysis of NEPA and its implementation. Of course, the most authoritative pronouncements emanate from the Council on Environmental Quality. A selection of various books and articles on diverse aspects of NEPA practice and procedure is included in the Bibliography.

Bibliography

Legislative History and Congressional Documents

  • Congressional White Paper on a National Policy for the Environment submitted to the United States Congress under the Auspices of the S. Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs and the H. Comm. on Science and Astronautics, 90th Cong. (1968).
  • Joint House-Senate Colloquium to Discuss a National Policy for the Environment, Hearing before the S. Comm. on Science and Astronautics, 90th Cong. (1968).
  • Report of Managing the Environment, Staff of Subcomm. on Science, Research, and Dev. of the H. Comm. on Science and Astronautics, 90th Cong. (1968).
  • Conference Report on S. 1075, H.R. Rep. No. 91-765 (1969).
  • Report to Accompany S. 1075, S. Rep. No. 91-296 (1969).
  • Report to Accompany H.R. 12,549, H.R. Rep. No. 91-378 (1969).
  • Hearings on the Administration of the National Environmental Policy Act Before the Subcomm. on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation of the H. Comm. on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. (Serial No. 91-41, 1971) (2 parts).
  • Hearings on National Environmental Policy Act Oversight Before the Subcomm. on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Env’t of the H. Comm. on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (Serial No. 94-14, 1976).
  • Staff of Senate Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs, Council on Environmental Quality: Oversight Report, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (1976).
  • Hearings on CEQ Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act Before the Subcomm. on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Env’t, House Comm. on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. (Committee Serial 95-35, 1978).
  • Hearings on Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act by the Council on Environmental Quality Before the Subcomm. on Toxic Substances and Envtl. Oversight of the S. Comm. on Env’t and Public Works, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. (Committee Serial 97-H56, July 21, 1982).
  • Hearings on Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 Before the Subcomm. on Hazardous Wastes and Toxic Substances of the S. Comm. on Environmental and Public Works, 100th Cong., 1st and 2d Sess. (S. Hrg. 100-509, Nov. 24, 1987; Jan. 14, 1988).
  • Hearing on the Application of the National Environmental Policy Act Before the Subcomm. on Oversight and Investigations of the S. Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources, 104th Cong., 1st Sess. (S. Hrg. 10481, June 7, 1995).
  • Hearing on the Efforts by the Federal Land Management Agencies to Strengthen the National Environmental Policy Act Before the Subcomm. on Oversight and Investigations, S. Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources, 104th Cong., 2d Sess. (S. Hrg. 104-775, Sept. 26, 1996).
  • Problems and Issues with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Oversight Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Resources Before the H. Comm. on Resources, 105th Cong., 2d Sess. (Serial No. 105-102) (Mar. 18, 1998).
  • Comments from Congressman Ribble on an Amendment to H.R. 4348, April 18, 2012, Cong. Rec. H1946–55.
  • MAP-21 Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 4348, H.R. Rep. No. 112-557 (2012).
  • The Council on Environmental Quality’s FY 2013 Funding Request and the Effects on NEPA, National Ocean Policy and Other Federal Environmental Policy Initiatives, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Nat. Res., 112th Cong. (2012) (video).
  • Hearing on H.R. 250, H.R. 382, H.R. 432, H.R. 758, H.R. 1512, H.R. 1434, H.R. 1439, H.R. 1459, and H.R. 885, Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Pub. Lands and Envtl. Regulation of the H. Comm. on Nat. Res., 113th Cong. (2013).
  • The Department of the Interior’s Proposal to Use a Categorical Exclusion Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for Adding Species to the Lacey Act’s List of Injurious Wildlife, Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs of the H. Comm. on Nat. Res., 113th Cong. (2013) (video).
  • H.R. Rep. No. 113-385, 113th Cong. (2014).
  • Modernizing NEPA for the 21st Century, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Nat. Res., 115th Cong. (2017) (video).
  • The Weaponization of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Implications of Environmental Lawfare, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Nat. Res., 115th Cong. (2018) (video).

Executive Orders and White House Documents

Council on Environmental Quality Documents

Books and Articles

Agency Regulations

Federal agencies have promulgated their own individualized regulations within the parameters set by the CEQ regulations. See the Code of Federal Regulations Index (“environmental impact statements”) for a list of citations to agency regulations.

Statutory Provisions

National Environmental Policy Act

Title 42 U.S. Code

Subchapter I—Policies and Goals

Subchapter II—Council on Environmental Quality