The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a procedural statue that, along with its implementing regulations, requires federal agencies to take a hard look at the potential for environmental effects of proposed major federal actions. Before an agency makes a decision to act, it must also consider reasonable measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate significant effects. Since NEPA’s enactment, the Navy institutionalized the NEPA process to thoroughly analyze potential environmental effects to inform federal decision making.
Under NEPA, the Navy must analyze the potential effects on the natural and physical environment and consider the following:
What are the potential direct and indirect environmental impacts that might occur?
What is the severity and context of the environmental impact?
How much is the existing condition likely to change?
The nature of the action and answers to the above questions dictate which type of environmental planning review is necessary. Actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human or natural environment, are known as categorical exclusions (CATEX).
Each federal agency develops its own CATEXs because each agency has a unique mission that requires unique routine actions. CATEXs are promulgated to each agency’s procedures through the Administrative Procedures Act. Other actions with the potential to significantly affect the environment must be reviewed through either an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS). These documents include information on the Navy’s compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations, summary of public engagement efforts, identification of mitigation to reduce significant effects or any permits necessary to implement the proposed action, and description of consultation efforts with federal, state, and local agencies. USFF performs these reviews because it is one of the primary sponsors within the Navy for mission readiness activities and home basing/homeporting of new assets (i.e., aircraft or vessels).
The NEPA process ensures environmental planning, public involvement, conservation, and compliance efforts by all Navy stakeholders are consistent with national policies and national security requirements in order to support operational readiness today and tomorrow.
Navy NEPA Projects
To view the U.S. Navy’s NEPA projects, please visit https://www.nepa.navy.mil