The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was created to ensure federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their actions and decisions.

Federal agencies are required to assess the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and consider less damaging and protective ways of completing their missions.

A federal action may be “categorically excluded” from a detailed environmental analysis if the federal action does not, “individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment”


Statutes addressing the following issues may be part of the environmental review under NEPA:

  • Accessibility
  • Archaeological Resources
  • Biological Assessments
  • Central Business Areas
  • Coastal Zone Management
  • Cultural Resources
  • Endangered Species
  • Environmental Assessments & Impact Statements
  • Environmental Justice
  • Floodplains
  • Historic Resources
  • Native Americans
  • Site Location Policies
  • Wetlands
  • Noise Pollution


NEPA Section 101(b) states “it is the continuing responsibility of the federal government to use all practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of national policy” to avoid environmental degradation, preserve historic, cultural, and natural resources, and “promote the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without undesirable and unintentional consequences”.