Guide to the National Environmental Policy Act: Interpretations, Applications, and Compliance

By Valerie M. Fogleman | Go to book overview

4
Environmental Assessments

4.1 INTRODUCTION

The use of environmental assessments (EAs) by agencies has greatly increased since the 1970s. By the late 1980s, ten thousand to twenty thousand EAs were prepared annually compared to about 425 draft and final EISs prepared annually. 1 This chapter discusses the purpose of an EA, how to prepare an EA and who should do so, and the scope of an EA. If an agency determines, based on an EA, that a proposed action will not have significant environmental effects, the agency must prepare and publish a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) before it may proceed with the action.

Public participation in the EA process is discussed in this chapter. Public participation in agency procedures for preparing EAs is more limited than in EIS preparation, but it serves a valuable purpose. Not only does the public become more likely to support an action it is involved in, but reviewing courts give greater weight to agency determinations in which the public was actively involved. The judicial review of EAs and FONSIs is also examined, including the burden of proof to be shown by a plaintiff and the standard of review applied to agency determinations.

Actions may often be mitigated to reduce their environmental effects below the significance threshold. An agency may then prepare an EA instead of an EIS. The incorporation of mitigation measures into an EA is also discussed in this chapter. Finally, the criteria considered by courts in determining whether environmental effects are significant is examined.

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Guide to the National Environmental Policy Act: Interpretations, Applications, and Compliance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Title Page vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Acronyms xv
  • 1 - The National Environmental Policy Act 1
  • 1.1 INTRODUCTION 1
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Administrative Structure for Implementing Nepa 28
  • Notes 46
  • 3 - Threshold Determinations 56
  • 3.1 INTRODUCTION 56
  • Notes 66
  • 4 - Environmental Assessments 77
  • 4.1 INTRODUCTION 77
  • Notes 95
  • 5 - Environmental Impact Statements 110
  • 5.1 INTRODUCTION 110
  • Notes 142
  • 6 - Nepa Litigation 168
  • 6.1 INTRODUCTION 168
  • Notes 194
  • 7 - State Statutes 213
  • 7.1 INTRODUCTION 213
  • Notes 248
  • Appendix A The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 249
  • Appendix B The Council on Environmental Quality Regulations 257
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index 305
  • About the Author 311
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