TITLE 40--PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT
CHAPTER V--COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY NEPA REGULATIONS
PART 1500 - PURPOSE, POLICY, AND MANDATE
(a) The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is our basic national charter
for protection of the environment. It establishes policy, sets goals
(section 101), and provides means ( § 102) for carrying out the policy.
Section 102(2) contains "action-forcing" provisions to make sure that federal
agencies act according to the letter and spirit of the Act. The regulations
that follow implement section 102(2). Their purpose is to tell federal
agencies what they must do to comply with the procedures and achieve the
goals of the Act. The President, the federal agencies, and the courts share
responsibility for enforcing the Act so as to achieve the substantive requirements
of section 101.
(b) NEPA procedures must insure that environmental information is available
to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions
are taken. The information must be of high quality. Accurate scientific analysis,
expert agency comments, and public scrutiny are essential to
implementing NEPA. Most important, NEPA documents must concentrate on the
issues that are truly significant to the action in question, rather than
amassing needless detail.
(c) Ultimately, of course, it is not better documents but better decisions
that count. NEPA's purpose is not to generate paperwork-even excellent
paperwork-but to foster excellent action. The NEPA process is intended to
help public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of
environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance
the environment. These regulations provide the direction to achieve
Federal agencies shall to the fullest extent possible:
(a) Interpret and administer the policies, regulations, and public laws
of the United States in accordance with the policies set forth in the Act
(b) Implement procedures to make the NEPA process more useful to decisionmakers
and the public; to reduce paperwork and the accumulation of
extraneous background data; and to emphasize real environmental issues and
alternatives. Environmental impact statements shall be concise, clear, and
to the point, and shall be supported by evidence that agencies have made
the necessary environmental analyses.
(c) Integrate the requirements of NEPA with other planning and environmental
review procedures required by law or by agency practice so that
all such procedures run concurrently rather than consecutively.
(d) Encourage and facilitate public involvement in decisions which affect
the quality of the human environment.
(e) Use the NEPA process to identify and assess the reasonable alternatives
to proposed actions that will avoid or minimize adverse effects of these
actions upon the quality of the human environment.
(f) Use all practicable means, consistent with the requirements of the Act
and other essential considerations of national policy, to restore and enhance
the quality of the human environment and avoid or minimize any possible adverse
effects of their actions upon the quality of the human environment.
Parts 1500 through 1508 of this title provide regulations applicable to
and binding on all Federal agencies for implementing the procedural provisions
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (Pub. L. 91-190,
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA or the Act) except where compliance would be
inconsistent with other statutory requirements. These regulations are issued
pursuant to NEPA, the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, as
amended (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) section 309 of the Clean Air Act, as amended
(42 U.S.C. 7609) and Executive Order 11514, Protection and Enhancement of
Environmental Quality (March 5, 1970, as amended by Executive Order 11991,
May 24, 1977). These regulations, unlike the predecessor guidelines, are
not confined to sec. 102(2)(C) (environmental impact statements). The regulations
apply to the whole of section 102(2). The provisions of the Act and of these
regulations must be read together as a whole in order to comply with the
spirit and letter of the law. It is the Council's intention that judicial
review of agency compliance with these regulations not occur before an agency
has filed the final environmental impact statement, or has made a final finding
of no significant impact (when such a finding will result in action affecting
the environment), or takes action that will result in irreparable
injury. Furthermore, it is the Council's intention that any trivial violation
of these regulations not give rise to any independent cause of action.
1500.4 Reducing paperwork.
Agencies shall reduce excessive paperwork by:
(a) Reducing the length of environmental impact statements (§ 1502.2(c)),
by means such as setting appropriate page limits (§ 1501.7(b)(1)
(b) Preparing analytic rather than encyclopedic environmental impact statements
(c) Discussing only briefly issues other than significant ones (§ 1502.2(b)).
(d) Writing environmental impact statements in plain language (§ 1502.8).
(e) Following a clear format for environmental impact statements (§ 1502.10).
(f) Emphasizing the portions of the environmental impact statement that
are useful to decisionmakers and the public (§ 1502.14 and 1502.15)
and reducing emphasis on background material (§ 1502.16).
(g) Using the scoping process, not only to identify significant environmental
issues deserving of study, but also to deemphasize insignificant
issues, narrowing the scope of the environmental impact statement process
accordingly (§ 1501.7).
(h) Summarizing the environmental impact statement (§ 1502.12) and
circulating the summary instead of the entire environmental impact statement
if the latter is unusually long (§ 1502.19).
(i) Using program, policy, or plan environmental impact statements and
tiering from statements of broad scope to those of narrower scope, to
eliminate repetitive discussions of the same issues (§ 1502.4 and
(j) Incorporating by reference (§ 1502.21).
(k) Integrating NEPA requirements with other environmental review and
consultation requirements (§ 1502.25).
(l) Requiring comments to be as specific as possible (§ 1503.3).
(m) Attaching and circulating only changes to the draft environmental
impact statement, rather than rewriting and circulating the entire statement
when changes are minor (§ 1503.4(c)).
(n) Eliminating duplication with State and local procedures, by providing
for joint preparation (§ 1506.2), and with other Federal procedures,
providing that an agency may adopt appropriate environmental documents
prepared by another agency ( 1506.3).
(o) Combining environmental documents with other documents (§ 1506.4).
(p) Using categorical exclusions to define categories of actions which
do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human
environment and which are therefore exempt from requirements to prepare
an environmental impact statement (§ 1508.4).
(q) Using a finding of no significant impact when an action not otherwise
excluded will not have a significant effect on the human environment and
therefore exempt from requirements to prepare an environmental impact statement
(§ 1508.13). [§ 1500.4 amended at 44 FR 873, Jan. 3, 1979]
1500.5 Reducing delay.
Agencies shall reduce delay by:
(a) Integrating the NEPA process into early planning (§ 1501.2).
(b) Emphasizing interagency cooperation before the environmental impact
statement is prepared, rather than submission of adversary comments on a
completed document (§ 1501.6).
(c) Insuring the swift and fair resolution of lead agency disputes (§ 1501.5).
(d) Using the scoping process for an early identification of what are and
what are not the real issues (• 1501.7).
(e) Establishing appropriate time limits for the environmental impact statement
process (• 1501.7(b)(2) and 1501.8).
(f) Preparing environmental impact statements early in the process (• 1502.5).
(g) Integrating NEPA requirements with other environmental review and consultation
requirements (§ 1502.25).
(h) Eliminating duplication with State and local procedures by providing
for joint preparation (§ 1506.2) and with other Federal procedures by
providing that an agency may adopt appropriate environmental documents prepared
by another agency (§ 1506.3).
(i) Combining environmental documents with other documents (§ 1506.4).
(j) Using accelerated procedures for proposals for legislation (§ 1506.8).
(k) Using categorical exclusions to define categories of actions which do
not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human
environment (§ 1508.4) and which are therefore exempt from requirements
to prepare an environmental impact statement.
(l) Using a finding of no significant impact when an action not otherwise
excluded will not have a significant effect on the human environment
(§ 1508.13) and is therefore exempt from requirements to prepare an
environmental impact statement.
1500.6 Agency authority.
Each agency shall interpret the provisions of the Act as a supplement to its
existing authority and as a mandate to view traditional policies and
missions in the light of the Act's national environmental objectives. Agencies
shall review their policies, procedures, and regulations accordingly and
revise them as necessary to insure full compliance with the purposes and provisions
of the Act. The phrase "to the fullest extent possible" in section
102 means that each agency of the Federal Government shall comply with that
section unless existing law applicable to the agency's operations expressly
prohibits or makes compliance impossible.
January 22, 2009