The National Environmental Policy Act
Get involved in your future. Understand the NEPA process, know the project, comment effectively and have your voice heard.
Many actions that effect public use on public lands are governed by the NEPA process and it is in the best interest of the public to understand that process.
Congress enacted NEPA in December, 1969, and
President Nixon signed it into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA was the first
major environmental law in the United States and is often called the "Magna
Carta" of environmental laws. Importantly, NEPA established this country's
national environmental policies.
In NEPA, Congress recognized that the Federal Government's actions may cause significant environmental effects.
The range of actions that cause significant environmental effects is broad and includes issuing regulations, providing permits for private actions, funding private actions, making federal land management decisions, constructing publicly-owned facilities, and many other types of actions.
Agencies are required to determine if their proposed actions have significant environmental effects and to consider the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Often private individuals or companies will become involved in the NEPA process when they need a permit issued by a Federal agency. When a company applies for a permit (for example, for crossing federal lands) the agency that is being asked to issue the permit must evaluate the environmental effects of the permit decision under NEPA.
NEPA declares that the Federal government's continuing policy is to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.
The best single source of information about NEPA is:
A Citizen's Guide to the NEPA, Click here to see the guide.
WHY COMMENT? Commenting is an important way to make your voice heard in decision making.
Substantive Comments can make a difference - Knowing how to make your comments effective is important
• Comments should be clear, concise, and relevant to the analysis of the proposed action
• Comments that are solution oriented and provide specific examples will be more effective than those that simply oppose the proposed project
• Focus on the purpose and need of the proposed action, the proposed alternatives, the assessment of the environmental impacts of those alternatives, and the proposed mitigation.
• Commenting is not a form of (voting) on an alternative
• Number of negative comments an agency receives does not prevent an action from moving forward
• Numerous comments that repeat the same basic message of support or opposition will typically be responded to collectively
• Comments that state an action will have "significant environmental environmental" will not help an agency make a better decision unless the relevant causes and environmental effects are explained.
Click here for more detailed ideas on making effective comments.
Here is a short video made by Oregon Washington BLM that describes the basic NEPA idea.
Click here for another video on the NEPA Process
Navigating the NEPA Process
For more detailed information about NEPA, visit the National Environmental Policy Act home page at:
And NEPA Net at:
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