The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enacted in 1969, has changed our lives. NEPA is one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation enacted in the United States. It has affected substantially how federal agencies conduct their planning and decision making processes because it requires all agencies to: (1) Consider environmental factors appropriately when making decisions, not basing decisions solely on technical and economic factors; (2) Involve the affected and interested public early in its environmental-analysis process; (3) Seek less environmentally damaging ways to do our jobs and (4) Document in plain language for the decision maker and the public this environmental-analysis process.
NEPA is just good planning and decision making that appropriately considers the potential physical, biological, economic, social, and human environment.
NEPA requires review of the effects of all Federal, federally-assisted and federally-licensed actions, not just of those defined as “major” or as having “significant” impacts. The level of review given different kinds of projects varies with the likelihood of serious impact, however. In general, the NEPA process entails: determining what need must be addressed, identifying alternative ways of meeting the needs, analyzing the environmental impacts of each alternative, and armed with the results of this analysis, deciding which alternative to pursue and how. All agencies of the Federal Government are required to utilize a systematic, multi-disciplinary approach that will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts in reviewing projects that may have an impact on man’s environment. Determinations of impact can be addressed at three different levels; Categorical Exclusions (CatEx), Environmental Assessments (EA), and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS).
In addition to the standard NEPA documentation cited above, KSC has also developed an Environmental Justice Plan and an Environmental Resource Document (ERD). The Environmental Justice Plan ensures the minority and low-income populations near KSC are not adversely affected by KSC actions. The ERD provides comprehensive baseline environmental information about KSC and is updated every five years.Kennedy’s Environmental Checklist
If a federal agency anticipates that an undertaking may significantly impact the environment, or if a project is environmentally controversial, a federal agency may choose to prepare an EIS without having to first prepare an EA.
After a final EIS is prepared and at the time of its decision, a federal agency will prepare a public record of decision (ROD) addressing how the findings of the EIS, including consideration of alternatives, were incorporated into the agency's decision-making process.
Point of Contact: Don Dankert, 321-861-2267