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Environmental Impact Assessment Reports

General Information

Federal requirements for assessing the environmental impact of federal projects date from 1970 with the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess a project's potential impact on the human environment. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. A flow chart of the federal NEPA process is available as well as a brief Overview of NEPA Requirements.

As an initial step in the environmental review process an Environmental Assessment (EA) may be prepared that determines whether an full environmental review is needed or just a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which indicates that there will be no adverse effects on the environment. Initially some projects may be excluded by categorical exclusion (CATEX). If the initial review determines that there will be a significant impact a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is prepared and made available to the public and other agencies for review and comment. This is subsequently followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The final EIS does not supersede the draft EIS because the final version typically cites information included in the draft. The final step in the process is the filing of a Record of Decision (ROD).

Since 1970 more than 25,000 federal environmental impact statements have been prepared. In recent years approximately 500 draft and final EISs are completed annually. See Environmental Impact Statements Filed 1970-2007 for yearly totals and Calendar Year 2009 Filed EISs for a breakdown by federal agency. With development of enhanced NEPA regulations in 1978 EAs were added as way to comply with NEPA requirements for determining the environmental significance of a project. According to the US Council on Environmental Quality there are 30,000-50,000 EAs prepared annually with the vast majority prepared by just a few agencies, e.g., the US Forest Service estimates it prepares 13,000 EAs each year.

Guides to Federal Assessment Laws and Methodology

NEPA (U.S.Council on Environmental Quality) is the official NEPA site containing information on statutes, regulations, guidelines, and agency implementing procedures. CEQ has developed general regulations for implementing NEPA with individual agencies developing further regulations.

Other publications and web sites that contain information on federal assessment laws and methology include:

 

Finding Federal Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in the HSU Library

Most federal environmental impact assessment reports available in the HSU Library are received on federal depository and are located in the U.S. Government Documents Collection. Reports received on depository may be in paper, in microfiche or linked to online fulltext. In addition reports that focus on the local area are located in the Humboldt Room and are Library Use Only. Of the 500 federal EISs produced annually the HSU Library receives approximately 75 each year.

The following three options can be used to locate federal enviromental impact assessement reports (draft and final environmental impact statements, environmenal assessments, FONSIs and RODs) in the HSU Library:

Search the HSU Library Catalog. The catalog indexes federal environmental impact assessment reports located in the Humboldt Room and, since April 1998, reports added to the U.S. Government Documents Collection. There are currently over 1100 EISs, 400 EAs and 70 FONSIs listed in the catalog. To search the catalog you can:

  • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for, e.g. entering <"environmental impact statement"> will retrieve all EISs listed in the catalog.

  • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g. entering <"environmental assessment" road> will retrieve all environmental impact assessment reports dealing with roads listed in the catalog.

  • Use the Subject search option to enter one of the following suggested subjects along with the subdivision environmental aspects, e.g.,<airports environmental aspects>. Most environmental impact assessment reports are cataloged using a subject along with the subdivision environmental aspects. However, not all reports indexed using environmental aspects are environmental impact assessment reports.

airports
all terrain vehicles
aluminum plants
apartment houses
atomic power plants
city planning
coal mines and mining
dams
forest roads
highway planning
land use
national parks and reserves
offshore gas industry
offshore oil industry
oil and gas leases
power plants
prisons
recreational areas
regional planning
road construction
sewage disposal
shopping malls
waste disposal
wilderness areas

 

Search the Catalog of U.S. Government PublicationsThis index can be used to identify federal environmental impact assessment reports published between 1976 and the present that are available in the HSU Library. It also includes reports from 1976 to the present that were not received locally on government depository. Includes links to fulltext if available. Use one or more of the following techniques:

  • Use the default keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking , e.g., entering <environmental impact statement> will retrieve over 3,700 EISs.
  • Use the default keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g., <environmental impact statement decommissioning>.
  • Use the subject keyword search option to enter the phrase environmental aspects along with one of the same subject headings listed for the HSU Library Catalog above, e.g., <roads environmental aspects>.

To determine local availabilitypublication format and location there are four pieces of information on the full display record that you need to look for. The full record displays when you click on a publication title. See Catalog of U.S. Government Publications for more detailed information.

Browse the U.S. Documents Collection. You can use the SuDocs Classification System to browse for environmental impact assessment reports prepared by various federal agencies. Following are some suggested SuDocs classification areas to browse for both print reports filed on bookshelves and microfiche reports filed in microfiche cabinets:

 

A 13.92 & A 13.92/2   Forest Service
A 57.65 & A 57.65/2    Natural Resources Conservation Service
D 103.62    Army Corps of Engineers
D 301.92    Air Force
C 55.328    National Marine Fisheries Service
C 55.34 & C 55.34/2    National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
E 1.20    Department of Energy
E 2.11    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
I 1.98    Department of the Interior (includes Fish & Wildlife Service, Indian Affairs Bureau, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service)
I 29.79/5    National Park Service
I 49.113    US Fish & Wildlife Service
I 53.59    Bureau of Land Management

 

You can also look in the U.S. Documents Shelflist under these same classification numbers for a itemized list of print and microfiche reports received prior to 1998.

 

Finding Federal Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in Other Libraries & on the Internet

The following sources can be used to identify environmental impact assessment reports produced by federal agencies:

  • Federal Agency NEPA Websites (US Council on Environmental Quality) Lists federal agency NEPA compliance sites, some of which include links to fulltext reports.

  • Federal Agency Digital NEPA Documents (US Council on Environmental Quality) Links to federal agency web sites that include compliance documents and may contain the links to the fulltext of environmetal impact assessment reports.

  • EIS-Digests of Environmental Impact Statements (HSU users only) Indexes and provides detailed abstracts of environmental impact statements issued by federal agencies from 1985 to the present.

  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Database (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Includes searchable database of all EISs filed with EPA since 2004 and a weekly listing of the "Notices of Availability" of all EISs filed the previous week in the Federal Register. Includes some links tofulltext. One can also search the Federal Register for environmental impact assessment documents from 1994 to present. Enter appropriate keywords in the search box, e.g., "environmental impact statement coal".

  • Natural Resources - Agencies (HSU Library Special Collections - Humboldt Room) Includes links to local government agencies, some of whom include links to the fulltext of environmental impact assessment reports.

  • Northwestern University Transportation Library (Northwestern University Library) This library contains over 19,000 EISs issued by federal agencies since 1969, representing 80% of all EISs published. See How to Search for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for search tips and how to request on interlibrary loan. This same EIS database is included in the TRID database. (Note: As of 2012 Google is digitizing the EIS collection.)

  • USA.gov Official United States government index to federal websites. Search "environmental impact statement" combined with a subject keyword. May include fulltext or only a notice of availability. You can use the Advanced Search feature to limit to fulltext by choosing "Adobe PDF" in the File Type option.

  • Science.gov Contains the fulltext of approximately 2,000 EISs from the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, EPA, and NASA among the 1,000,000 technical reports included in the database.

  • Southern Oregon Digital Archives: Bioregion Collection (Southern Oregon University Library) Collection of fulltext documents from federal and state agencies that relate to the Southern Oregon Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. Includes over 800 EISs and 600 environment assessments. Search by author, title, agency, subject or keyword.

Once you have identified an environmental impact assessment report of interest use the following options to acquire either a fulltext or print copy:

  • Look for direct links from the source to the fulltext report on the Internet

  • Use an an Internet search tool, e.g., Google, to look for the specific report on the Internet

  • Use the Library's Interlibrary Loan Service to borrow a copy from another library. It takes an average of nine calendar days to arrive.