National Environmental Policy Act
- The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347) requires a Federal agency to assess the effects of granting permits, constructing projects, and undertaking other activities on the "human environment" whenever it proposes such actions. The assessment includes an analysis of the activity's effect on a particular resource and possible mitigation measures available to reduce the significance of that effect. Federal agencies are also required to consider the cumulative effects of the planned action.
- For example, NEPA applies to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) Clean Water Act §404 permit decisions. Army Corps procedure is to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) on the potential consequences of the proposed permit decision. Based on the EA, the Army Corps either issues a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or an environmental impact statement (EIS).
- For all individual permits, some form of NEPA compliance is required through the preparation of an EA. In the case of nationwide permits, NEPA review was performed as part of the administrative rule-making process prior to their isssuance.
- Also, in instances where an Army Corps permit is not required for activities adversely effecting wetlands (i.e., no discharge of dredged or fill material is involved), NEPA requires an assessment of the project's effect on wetlands.
- Wetlands are mentioned in NEPA as a resource to be evaluated when determining whether an activity will have a significant effect on the human environment. However, NEPA does not provide uniform wetlands protection but does (as mentioned above) require Federal agencies to evaluate an activity's effect on wetlands. This evaluation may include an assessment of an activity's effect on wildlife and plant species of concern located in wetlands and recommended mitigation to reduce these impact to less-than-significant levels.
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