The purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to include environmental considerations into federal agency planning and action. This is done by providing decision-makers and other stakeholders with information they need to understand any potentially significant environmental impacts resulting from an action. Through its NEPA process, Fort A.P. Hill actively incorporates environmental considerations into informed decision making. All NEPA analyses are prepared using an interdisciplinary team approach; balancing environmental concerns with mission requirements, technical requirements, economic feasibility, and long-term sustainability of Army operations on the Installation. The NEPA process allows Fort A.P. Hill decision makers to be cognizant of the impacts their decisions have on cultural resources, forests, wetlands, fish and wildlife, and other natural resources under their care.
NEPA POLICY OVERVIEW
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
The purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act are to declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). It is the continuing responsibility of the Federal government to carry out the policy set forth in this Act.
Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA
The CEQ prepared procedures, 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 1500-1508, which implement Section 102(2) of the NEPA. Their purpose is to tell Federal agencies what they must do to comply with the procedures and achieve the goals of the Act. NEPA procedures must insure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.
Environmental Analysis of Army Actions
Agencies are required to adopt procedures, Army Regulation 200 -1 32 CFR 651, to supplement those regulations listed in 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508. This regulation sets forth the Army's policies and responsibilities for the early integration of environmental considerations into planning and decision-making. These regulations require the Army to conduct environmental analysis of actions affecting human health and the environment. The regulations also provide criteria and guidance on actions normally requiring Environmental Assessments (EAs) or Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and list Army actions that are categorically excluded from such requirements provided specific criteria are met. These regulations must be read in conjunction with CEQ’s regulations.
HOW WE USE NEPA EVERYDAY
Categorical Exclusion (CX)
A majority of the day-to-day actions occurring on Fort A.P. Hill lands qualify for a CX,which are actions that normally do not require an EA or an EIS, and do not individually or cumulatively have a substantial effect on the human environment. When an action qualifies for a CX, the action can proceed, in some cases without further documentation; however, most Army actions will require the preparation of a Record of Environmental Consideration (REC). A REC can also be prepared for actions previously analyzed in an EA or EIS, using a process known as “tiering.” A REC briefly documents that an Army action has received environmental review. It also briefly describes the proposed action and time frame, and identifies the proponent and approving official in typically less than five pages. The REC must also state whether the proposed action qualifies for a CX or is already covered in an existing EA or EIS. The specific EA/EIS title must be included in the REC. Also, when using a CX, the consideration of screening criteria to ensure that no extraordinary circumstances or situations exist must be addressed.
Environmental Assessment (EA)
An EA briefly provides the decision maker with sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether a Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) or an EIS should be prepared. An EA is routinely used as a planning document to evaluate environmental impacts, develop alternatives and mitigation measures, and allow for agency and public participation. A FNSI is a document that briefly states why an action (not otherwise excluded) will not significantly affect the environment, and, therefore, that an EIS will not be prepared. The FNSI includes a summary of the EA and a summary of public concerns.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
An EIS is a detailed written statement for major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment. The Record of Decision (ROD) is a concise public document summarizing the findings in the EIS and the basis for decision. The ROD is required after the completion of an EIS and it identifies mitigations which were important in supporting decisions, such as those mitigations which reduce otherwise significant impacts, and ensure that appropriate monitoring procedures are implemented.
For environmental assessments or environmental impact statement over five years old can be provided by the at 804-633-8255.