The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1969. NEPA requires that a Federal Agency, when considering taking a major Federal action, employ a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to analyze the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action, consider alternatives to the proposed action, and make an informed decision prior to implementing the action. NEPA applies to the United States and U.S. territories, Antarctica, and for actions occurring within 12 nautical miles seaward from adjacent shorelines. NEPA ensures that federal agencies consider environmental impacts of actions in planning and decision making, and provides an opportunity for public input into the decision making process. It requires federal decision makers to consider the environmental consequences of a proposed action and reasonable alternatives to the proposed action before making the decision on whether to take the action.
Environmental Impact Statement
Because the proposed action of realigning forces on Guam may significantly affect the human or natural environment, the Department of Defense is required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS identifies reasonable alternatives, and is a detailed study of the potential consequences that a federal action may have on the human environment and is a public document which serves to inform decision makers and the public.
The EIS Process
To prepare an EIS, biologists, archeologists, engineers, planners and other technical professionals examine existing conditions such as land use, socioeconomics, noise, air quality, water quality, traffic, utilities, vegetation and wildlife, archeological and cultural resources, and hazardous materials. Data is gathered and analyzed to identify how the proposed action might affect current conditions. Issues most likely to be of concern to the public are identified and addressed through scoping and public comment periods. Where findings indicate the possibility of significant or adverse impacts, the agency identifies, when possible, ways to avoid or minimize those impacts.
The EIS process includes defined steps. These steps are:
- Determination of the Need for an EIS: An agency identifies a need for action and develops a proposal. If the agency identifies that the proposed action will have the potential to cause significant impacts, an EIS is required.
- Notice of Intent Publication: Provides an overview of the proposed project.
- Scoping: The initial step in the EIS process where the public can review the proposed action and provide comments on the scope of the EIS.
- Draft EIS Publication: Considers all public scoping comments and contains the results of the potential impacts analyses of the proposed action.
- DEIS Public Comment Period: A review period where interested parties can comment on the draft EIS. Public hearings are usually held during the DEIS public comment period.
- Final EIS Publication: Incorporates and formally responds to public comments received on the draft EIS.
- Record of Decision: Provides the public record of the agency’s decision.
The SEIS Process
NEPA requires that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) be prepared when there are relevant and substantial changes in the proposed action or there are significant new circumstances or information.
The SEIS will follow the same process as an EIS.
Learn more at the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) website.