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Laws & Regulations

Summary of the National Environmental Policy Act

42 U.S.C. §4321 et seq. (1969)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was one of the first laws ever written that establishes the broad national framework for protecting our environment. NEPA's basic policy is to assure that all branches of government give proper consideration to the environment prior to undertaking any major federal action that significantly affects the environment.

NEPA requirements are invoked when airports, buildings, military complexes, highways, parkland purchases, and other federal activities are proposed. Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), which are assessments of the likelihood of impacts from alternative courses of action, are required from all Federal agencies and are the most visible NEPA requirements.

History of this Act

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The Office of Federal Activities (OFA) coordinates EPA's review of all federal Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) prepared by other agencies under NEPA, as well as EPA's compliance with NEPA.