The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)
NEPA requires that federal agencies will consider the impacts of actions on the human environment before decisions are made and the before action is taken. It requires that NEPA documents concentrate on issues that are significant to the action in question. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make better decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the human environment.
NEPA does not mandate protection of the environment. Instead, it requires agencies to follow a particular process in making decisions and to disclose the information/data that was used to support those decisions.
NEPA mandates that each agency develop procedures for implementing the basic NEPA requirements. The agencies’ procedures are adopted as federal regulations after input from the public and approval of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Agencies can also develop policy to complement their regulations.
NEPA requires agencies to follow a three-step review process: