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Oklahoma State University

EMC- Environmental Impact Assessments (NEPA)

Success in planning projects requiring NEPA compliance requires knowledge of often complex procedures and a myriad of environmental laws & regulations such as the “National Historic Preservation Act” and the “Endangered Species Act”.

This practical workshop demystifies complexities and clarifies concepts likely to be encountered within the NEPA process. It provides direction, tips, and options for managing your impact assessment projects. Exercises and case studies are used frequently to understand the types of issues often involved in EIA work.

This intensive workshop focuses on the most common National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects: linear projects such as roads and pipelines; and small-to-medium construction projects such as pumping stations or water and sewer facilities.

To allow the best efficiency in carrying out evening assignments, please bring a laptop to the course; wireless access is available.

Who Should Attend/Benefits:

Federal and State agency employees, contractors, consultants, permittees, and other recipients of financial or technical aid for land or resource management projects can benefit by:

  • Improve your ability understanding of the issues, alternatives, environmental consequences, and mitigation and monitoring measures associated with the NEPA process.
  • Learn how to be more responsive to federal requests for environmental information.
  • Speed up the issuance of necessary permits, easements, contracts, etc..
  • Improve project planning from being exposed to new directions, options, and possible solutions from the workshop experience.
  • Save time, money, and effort in conducting land and resource management projects

Workshop Outline

I. Exploring the complexities of NEPA and “EIAs”
Topics: The Workshop begins by exploring best practices in environmental impact assessment, and how they relate to current agency practice; the CEQ guidance on reducing delay and paperwork; federal agency guidance on streamlining the NEPA process; interdisciplinary analysis; scheduling and timing; reporting (“disclosure documents”); identifying issues and significant issues.
Exploring the complexities of NEPA and “EIAs”, cont’d.
Topics: Designing NEPA documents for compliance, including: using checklists and protocols for special topics (such as pollution prevention, biodiversity, cumulative effect analysis, environmental justice); creating an Administrative Record using ETCI’s DocIt™ Protocol; dealing with incomplete information and “how much is enough” questions; reviewing NEPA documents (Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements) for compliance, completeness, and usefulness to decision-making.
II. Cumulative Effects and the National Environmental Policy Act
Topics: Analyzing Cumulative Effects, using Council on Environmental Quality guidance. Cumulative effects are some of the most difficult types of effects to analyze during environmental impact assessment and project planning. The Council on Environmental Quality guidance includes definitions of types of effects, principles and tools to apply during analysis, and examples of analytical techniques.
III. Integrating NEPA with the National Historic Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act
Topics: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires consultation between a federal agency and the State Historic Preservation Officer for any undertaking (project) that adversely affects an archaeological or historical site that is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This consultation usually takes place during the NEPA process. So this segment covers concepts such as significance under the National Historic Preservation Act; definitions of cultural resources; nature of undertakings; nature of effects, including adverse effects; mitigation measures; consultation requirements; and means of integrating the NEPA process with these consultation compliance requirements, based on Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regulations and guidance.
IV. Integrating NEPA with the National Historic Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act
Topics: Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service during project planning to ensure that their activities do not jeopardize species listed on the Endangered Species list. This process can be extremely controversial, especially for projects affecting private lands. Definitions of jeopardy, habitat conservation planning, and details of the consultation process are covered, based on US Fish and Wildlife Service regulations and guidance.
V. Facilitating the NEPA Process
Topics: Conceptual and software tools for facilitating the process: teamwork, objective-setting, public involvement, other agency consultations, project management. This section includes wrap-up of the four days and discussion of recommended follow-up activities.