Appendix 7: Council on Environmental Quality NEPA Regulations

AuthorNicholas C. Yost
Council on Environmental Quality NEPA Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Pts. 1500-1508 Page 79
Council on Environmental Quality
NEPA Regulations
40 C.F.R. Pts. 1500-1508
Pt. 1500
Part 1500—Purpose, Policy, and
1500.1 Purpose .
1500.2 Policy.
1500.3 Mandate .
1500.4 Reducin g pap erwork.
1500.5 Reducin g del ay.
1500.6 Agency auth ority.
NEPA, the Environmental Qua lity Improvement Act
of 1970, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.), sec. 309
of the Clean Air Ac t, as amended (42 U.S.C. 7609)
and E.O. 11514, Mar. 5, 1970, as a mended by E .O.
11991, May 24, 1977).
43 FR 55990, Nov. 28, 1978, unless ot her wise noted.
§1500.1 Purpose.
(a) e National Environmental Policy Act (N EPA) is
our basic national cha rter for protection of the envi-
ronment. It establishes policy, sets goa ls (sect ion 101),
and provides means (section 102) for carry ing out the
policy. Section 102(2) contains “action-forcing” provi-
sions to make sure that feder al agencies act according
to the letter and spirit of the Act. e reg ulations that
follow implement section 102(2). eir purpose is to
tell federal agencie s what they must do to comply with
the procedures and ach ieve the goals of the Act. e
President, the federal agencies , and the courts share
responsibility for enforcing t he Act so a s to achieve the
substantive requirements of sect ion 101.
(b) NEPA procedures must insure that envi ronmenta l
information is avail able to public ocia ls and citizens
before decisions are made and before ac tions are taken.
e information must be of high qua lity. Accurate
scientic analysi s, expert agency comments, and public
scrutiny are essenti al to implementing NEPA. Most
important, NEPA documents must concentr ate on the
issues that are t ruly signicant to the action in ques-
tion, rather than am assing needless detail.
(c) Ultimately, of course, it is not better documents
but better decisions that count. N EPA’s purpose is not
to generate paperwork—even e xcel lent paper work
but to foster excellent action. e NEPA process is
intended to help public ocials make deci sions th at
are based on understa nding of environmental conse-
quences, and take ac tions that protect, restore, and
enhance the environment. e se regulations provide
the direction to achie ve this purpose.
§1500.2 Policy.
Federal agencies sha ll to the fullest extent possible:
(a) Interpret and administer the policie s, regulations,
and public laws of the United States in acc orda nce
with the policies set fort h in the Act and in these
(b) Implement procedures to make the NEPA pro-
cess more usefu l to decisionm akers and the public; to
reduce paperwork and the ac cumulation of extraneous
background data ; and to emphasize real environmental
issues and alternat ives. Environmental impact state-
ments shall be concise, cle ar, and to t he point, a nd
shall be supported by ev idence that agencies have made
the necessar y environmental analyses.
(c) Integrate the requirements of NEPA with other
planning and envi ronmenta l review procedures
required by law or by agency pract ice so that all such
procedures run concu rrently r ather than consecutively.
(d) Encourage and facilitate public i nvolvement in
decisions which aec t the quality of the human
(e) Use the NEPA process to identify and asses s the
reasonable alternatives to propose d actions that will
avoid or minimize adverse e ects of these actions upon
the quality of the hum an environment.
(f) Use all pra cticable means, consistent with the
requirements of the Act and other es sential consider-
ations of national policy, to restore and enha nce the
quality of the huma n environment and avoid or mini-
mize any possible adverse e ects of their actions upon
the quality of the hum an environment.
§1500.3 Mandate.
Parts 1500 through 1508 of this title provide regula-
tions applicable to and binding on al l Federal agen-
cies for implementing the procedura l provisions of
the National Environmenta l Policy Ac t 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 statutor y requirements. ese
regulations are i ssued pursuant to NEPA, the Environ-
Page 80 NEPA Deskbook
mental Qualit y Improvement Act of 1970, as amended
(42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) section 309 of the Clean
Air Act, as a mended (42 U.S.C. 7609) and Executive
Order 11514, Protection and Enhancement of Environ-
mental Qualit y (March 5, 1970, as amended by Exe cu-
tive Order 11991, May 24, 1977). ese regulations,
unlike the predec essor guidelines, are not conned to
sec. 102(2)(C) (environmenta l impact statements). e
regulations apply to the whole of section 102(2). e
provisions of the Act and of these reg ulations 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 revie w of agency compliance with these
regulations not occu r before an agency has led the
nal environmenta l impact statement, or has made
a nal nding of no sig nicant impact (when such a
nding will re sult in action aecting the environment),
or takes action th at will result in irreparable injury.
Furthermore, it is the Council ’s intention that any
trivial violat ion of these re gulations not give rise to any
independent cause of action.
§1500.4 Reducing paperwork.
Agencies shal l reduce excessive paperwork by:
(a) Reducing the length of environmenta l impact state-
ments (§ 1502.2(c)), by means such as setti ng appropri-
ate page limits (§§ 1501.7(b)(1) and 1502.7).
(b) Preparing analy tic rather than encyclopedic envi-
ronmental impact statements (§ 1502.2(a)).
(c) Discussing only briey issues other t han signicant
ones (§ 1502.2(b)).
(d) Writing environmental impact statements in plai n
language (§ 1502.8).
(e) Following a clear format for environmental impact
statements (§ 1502.10).
(f) Emphasiz ing the portions of the environmental
impact statement that are u seful to decisionmakers
and the public (§§ 1502.14 and 1502.15) and reducing
emphasis on background mater ial (§ 1502.16).
(g) Using the scoping proc ess, not only to identify sig-
nicant environmenta l issues deserving of study, but
also to deemphasiz e insignicant issues, narrowi ng the
scope of the environmental impac t statement process
accordingly (§ 1501.7).
(h) Summarizi ng the environmental impact statement
(§ 1502.12) and circulat ing the summary instead of t he
entire environmental impact st atement if the latter is
unusually long (§ 1502.19).
(i) Using program, policy, or plan environmental
impact statements and tieri ng from statements of
broad scope to those of narrower scope, to el iminate
repetitive discus sions of the sa me issues (§§ 1502.4 and
(j) Incorporating by reference (§ 1502.21).
(k) Integrating NEPA requirements wit h other env i-
ronmental review and c onsu ltat ion requirements
(l) Requiring comments to be a s specic as possible
(m) Attaching and circu lating only changes to the
draft environ menta l impact statement, rather than
rewriting and circ ulating the entire statement when
changes are m inor (§ 1503.4(c)).
(n) Eliminating duplication wit h State a nd local pro-
cedures, by providing for joint preparat ion (§ 1506.2),
and with other Federal proce dures, by providing that
an agency may adopt appropriate environmenta l docu-
ments prepared by another agency (§ 1506.3).
(o) Combining environmental documents with other
documents (§ 1506.4).
(p) Using categorical exclusions to de ne categ ories of
actions which do not individua lly or cumulatively have
a signicant ee ct on the human environment and
which are therefore exempt from requirements to pre -
pare an environmental i mpact statement (§ 1508.4).
(q) Using a nding of no signica nt impact w hen an
action not otherwise exc luded wi ll not have a signi-
cant eect on the huma n environment and is therefore
exempt from requirements to prepare an environ men-
tal impact statement (§ 1508.13).
[43 FR 55990, Nov. 29, 1978; 44 FR 873, Jan. 3, 1979]
§1500.5 Reducing delay.
Agencies shal l reduce delay by:
(a) Integrating the NEPA process into early pla nning
(§ 1501.2).
(b) Emphasizing interagenc y cooperation before the
environmental impact state ment is prepare d, rather
than submission of adversa ry comments on a com-
pleted document (§ 1501.6).
(c) Insuring the swif t and fair resolution of lead agency
disputes (§ 1501.5).

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