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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

National Environmental Policy Act

Scoping a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Summary and materials from the February 2010 Scoping meeting, and the Draft Ports HIA Scope.

National Information

EPA Pacific Southwest (Region 9) comment letters on draft Environmental Impact Statements are organized on agency-specific pages, listed on the left side of this page.

Search all of EPA's comment letters »

EPA-Generated NEPA documents and Findings of No Significant Impact

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) establishes national environmental policy and goals for the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of the environment. It also establishes a process by which federal agencies must study the environmental effects of their actions, so these effects can be taken into consideration during federal decision-making. One of the first environmental laws ever written, NEPA is our country's basic national charter for environmental responsibility, In addition to preparing its own NEPA documents, EPA has a unique responsibility in the NEPA review process. Under Section 309 of the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to review and publicly comment on the environmental impacts of all major federal actions. EPA's comments are part of the public record and are posted on this website.

EPA Region 9's Environmental Review Section has the following responsibilities:

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  • Review NEPA documents prepared by other federal agencies and prepare written comments. In EPA's Pacific Southwest region, federal projects have included proposed airports, mines, buildings, military complexes, energy facilities, railroads and highways.
  • Work with federal agencies to seek opportunities to avoid and minimize environmental impacts, and mitigate adverse environmental impacts;
  • Coordinate with federal agencies to maximize environmental protection during proposed project planning; and
  • Foster inter-agency partnerships to promote environmental stewardship when implementing federal actions.

NEPA Documents

NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions. Depending on whether or not a proposed action could significantly affect the environment, either an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement is prepared.

Impact Assessment Methodologies

EPA sometimes recommends impact assessment methodologies for assessing impacts to certain resources.

  • Recommended methodology for the assessment of cumulative impacts, developed jointly by EPA, the Federal Highway Administration, and the California Department of Transportation: Guidance for Preparers of Cumulative Impact Analysis Exiting EPA (disclaimer).
  • Recommended guidance for assessing indirect impacts from induced growth: Guidance for Preparers of Growth-related, Indirect Impact Analyses Exiting EPA (disclaimer). While these methodologies were developed for transportation projects, the principles and the 8-step process outlined therein can be applied to other types of projects. We recommend the principles and steps in this guidance as a systematic way to analyze cumulative and growth-related indirect impacts for projects.

Impacts to Environmental Justice communities should be assessed, as required by EO 13115. EPA has developed tools that agencies can utilize in these analyses.

Improve Environmental Outcomes

EPA's comments on proposed federal projects contribute to increased benefits to the environment. For example, through EPA’s review of the Folsom Dam Safety and Flood Damage Reduction Project, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers committed to a variety of environmentally friendly practices. These include use of the cleanest available on-road vehicles, the most recent pollution control equipment for all off-road construction equipment, and electrical power rather than diesel for all stationary equipment. The agencies also agreed to reduce haulage miles and minimize the overlap of activities that produce pollutant emissions. These commitments will significantly reduce emissions of air pollutants from the project, reducing impacts to communities surrounding the Folsom Reservoir.

Environmental Impact Statements:Image

EIS documents must analyze a wide range of topics, such as water quality, wetlands, endangered species, transportation impacts, noise impacts, cultural resources and visual effects.

EIS documents must include a rigorous evaluation of all feasible alternatives to the proposed project, including the option to take no action.

Public involvement is essential to implementing NEPA. The public has the right to comment on proposed EIS documents before federal decisions are made. For guidance on how to effectively participate in Federal agencies' environmental reviews under NEPA, see the Council on Environmental Quality's A Citizen's Guide to NEPA (PDF) (55pp, 931K) Exiting EPA (disclaimer).

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