cattle grazing in grassland on Hawaii

Public Lands Grazing

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Introduction

Did you know?

That NEPA provides a means to ensure that development projects on our public lands do not adversely harm the environment and the natural resources that support our Nation.

Photo by: Mark Thorne

In 1969 Congress passed The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a deceptively simple statute which substantially altered the manner in which agencies of the U.S. government make decisions regarding projects that impact the human environment. Enacted into law on January 1, 1970, NEPA laid the foundation for a coherent national approach to the environment by requiring the integration of environmental quality concerns into Federal policymaking and decision making. Through NEPA, the Federal government began requiring three vital processes during project planning that had not been consistently undertaken before. These requirements are:

  1. that all Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of proposed actions
  2. that the public be informed of the potential environmental impacts of proposed actions
  3. that the public be involved in planning and analysis relevant to actions that impact the environment

In order to fulfill these requirements, Federal agencies implement what has come to be known as the "NEPA process" when planning projects with environmental impacts. While often viewed as yet another bureaucratic hoop to jump through, the primary objective of this process.

Videos

  • Overview of the NEPA Process with a Tribal Lands focus, Judy Kirtzman National Tribal Lands Association Conference 2019.

Further Reading