The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was enacted by Congress in 1969 to ensure Federal agencies consider the potential environmental impacts of their proposed actions and alternatives before deciding on a course of action. The environmental review under NEPA can involve three different levels of analysis, including a Categorical Exclusion determination (CX), Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). NEPA requires the preparation of an EIS for major Federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the environment. Under NEPA, the term “environment” encompasses the natural and physical environment (i.e., air, water, geography, and geology) as well as the relationship of people with that environment (i.e., health and safety, jobs, housing, schools, transportation, cultural resources, noise, and aesthetics).
The Council on Environmental Quality established NEPA requirements for all Federal agencies, including procedures for preparing and supplementing an EIS. Individual agencies have established their own implementing regulations to meet or exceed these requirements.
NEPA regulations require that a supplement to an EIS be prepared if (1) an agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns or (2) there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts.
The NEPA process does not dictate that an agency select the most environmentally beneficial or least expensive alternative. The purpose of the NEPA process is to ensure that accurate environmental analyses are performed; that the public is involved; and that public officials make decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences.
For additional information, please visit the DOE Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance web page.
Environmental remediation activities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are covered under the Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statements prepared and issued by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), who is the landlord agency. The Office of Environmental Management (EM) Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) evaluates changes in the EM program activities and conducts environmental assessments or supplement analyses to determine whether changes in the ER program are within the bounding analyses of the SWEIS issued by NNSA.