Learn about how we consider environmental factors in our decision-making.
We are guided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (Pub. L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations (40 C.F.R. 1500-1508), and our own regulations implementing NEPA (36 CFR 1010).
Enacted in 1970, NEPA is a cornerstone of our nation’s efforts to protect the environment. It recognizes that many federal activities affect the environment and mandates that federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before acting. NEPA emphasizes public involvement in government actions by requiring that the benefits and the risks associated with proposed actions be assessed and publicly disclosed.
Our NEPA reviews provide information so we can make substantive decisions in accordance with our mandate.
It’s our policy to:
Our NEPA compliance can take three forms: a Categorical Exclusion, an Environmental Assessment, or an Environmental Impact statement.
A Categorical Exclusion (CE) describes a category of actions that are expected not to have individually or cumulatively significant environmental impacts. The Trust’s regulations implementing NEPA set out our Categorical Exclusions, which were established after CEQ and public review.
A proposed action within such a category does not require further analysis and documentation in an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. A Categorical Exclusion can be used after determining that a proposed action falls within the categories of actions described in the CE and that there are no extraordinary circumstances indicating further environmental review is warranted.
When a Categorical Exclusion is not appropriate and we have not determined whether the proposed action will cause significant environmental effects, then an Environmental Assessment is prepared. If, as a result of the EA, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is made, then the NEPA review process is completed with the FONSI, including documentation of its basis in the Environmental Assessment; otherwise an EIS is prepared.
The most intensive level of analysis is the Environmental Impact Statement, which is typically reserved for the analysis of proposed actions that are expected to result in significant environmental impacts. When an EIS is prepared, the NEPA review process is concluded when a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued.