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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 a 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. With the development of enhanced NEPA regulations in 1978 EAs were added as a 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.
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 websites that contain information on federal assessment laws and methodology include:
Citizen's Guide to the NEPA: having your voice heard (US Council on Environmental Quality) 2007
Environmental Impact Statement Checklist (US Department of Energy) 1997
Effective Environmental Assessments: how to manage and prepare NEPA EAs (Eccleston) 2001 (TD 194.65 E35 2001)
Environmental Assessment (EA)/ Finding of No significant Impacts (FONSI) (California Department of Transportation) Discusses the preparation and processing of a NEPA Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Part of the CalTrans Standard Environmental Reference series.
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) (California Department of Transportation) Discusses the preparation and processing of a NEPA Notice of Intent, Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement, and Record of Decision. Part of the CalTrans Standard Environmental Reference series.
Environmental Impact Statement Process and Environmental Law (Moore) 2000 (ref TD 194.55 M66 2000)
Environmental Impact Statements: a comprehensive guide to project and strategic planning(Eccleston) 2000 (TD 194.55 E28 2000)
Environmental Impact Statements: a practical guide for agencies, citizens, and consultants(Kreske) 1996 (TD 194.55 K74 1996)
FedCenter: NEPA Federal site on environmental compliance contains links to sites that provide guidance, policies, tools, and examples for implementing NEPA.
How to Write Quality EISs and EAs (Freeman) 1998 (TD 194.5 F74 1998)
NEPA Book: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (Bass, Herson & Bogdan) 2001 (ref KF 3775 B37 2001)
NEPA Planning Process: A Comprehensive Guide with Emphasis on Efficiency (Eccleston) 1999 (GE 180 E33 1999)
National Environmental Policy Act Handbook (US Bureau of Land Management) 2008
Most federal environmental impact assessment reports available in the Library are received from the federal depository and information on navigating the government documents collection can be found here. Reports received on depository may be in paper, microfiche or linked to online full-text. In addition, reports that focus on the local area is located in Special Collections on the third floor of the library and are Library Use Only. Of the 500 federal EISs produced annually, the Library receives approximately 75 each year.
The following three options can be used to locate federal environmental impact assessment reports (draft and final environmental impact statements, environmental assessments, FONSIs, and RODs) in the Library:
Start with OneSearch, the library's 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" AND 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's environmental aspects. However, not all reports indexed using environmental aspects are environmental impact assessment reports. See the following subject examples below:
atomic power plants
coal mines and mining
national parks and reserves
offshore gas industry
offshore oil industry
oil and gas leases
Search the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. This 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 via the government depository. Includes links to full-text if available. Use one or more of the following techniques:
To determine local availability, publication 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.
Browse the physical U.S. Documents Collection in the library. Following are some suggested SuDocs classification areas available 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|
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 full-text reports.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Database (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Includes a searchable database of all EISs filed with the 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 to the full-text. One can also search the Federal Register for environmental impact assessment documents from 1994 to the 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 full-text 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.
USA.gov Official United States government index to federal websites. Search "environmental impact statement" combined with a subject keyword. It may include full-text or only a notice of availability.
Science.gov Contains the full text 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 full-text 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.