The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA is a U.S. federal law that requires federal agencies to identify and analyze the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action before deciding whether to proceed with that action. The law encourages and facilitates public involvement to inform decision makers on the actions that may affect the community or the environment.

NEPA Process

Please see the project fact sheet booklet for more information on the NEPA process

Importance of Public Involvement

Public and agency input allows decision makers to benefit from local knowledge and consider community issues and concerns. The public participates in the NEPA process during the following stages:

  • Scoping Period: Helping to identify the scope of the analysis, including potential environmental issues and viable alternatives
  • Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS Public Review and Comment Period: Evaluating and providing substantive comments on the draft analysis
  • Final Supplemental EIS/OEIS Wait Period: Reviewing the Final Supplemental EIS/OEIS and Navy responses to substantive comments received on the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS

Substantive Scoping and Public Review Comments

Public participation is an important part of the National Environmental Policy Act process. Submitting substantive and concise public comments is one of the most important aspects of that process.

"Substantive” comments, in the sense of an environmental analysis document, are comments on the analysis that contain practical importance, value, or effect. Submitting substantive and concise public comments is one of the most important aspects of the NEPA process.

The most effective comments are those that provide useful information to the Navy. For instance, submit comments if you find:

  • New information that would change the analysis and conclusions
  • Any peer-reviewed scientific literature that should be considered in the analysis
  • Something that should be clarified
  • A substantially different alternative that meets the purpose and need statement and has not been considered
  • An error in analysis that may affect the outcome (applicable once the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS is released)

General recommendations to keep in mind when making comments on any NEPA document:

  • Support statements with details. If, for example, you are concerned about biological resources, it is helpful to focus on a particular problem or issue, such as a species that you feel should be analyzed in the Supplemental EIS/OEIS, instead of making a broad statement such as “The Navy should analyze impacts on biological resources more adequately.” 
  • Back up your statements with explanations, facts, and references, as appropriate.
  • Be as specific as possible with your comments.
  • Keep your comments focused on the specifics of the proposed project under consideration.
  • Submit your comments within the timeframes announced to ensure that your concerns are considered and addressed in the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS.
  • Request to be included on the Supplemental EIS/OEIS mailing list to receive notification of public meetings and project information.
  • Become familiar with the scope of the analysis, including the purpose and need statement, potential environmental issues, viable alternatives, and the responsibilities of the lead agency (Navy).
  • Review the agency website to become familiar with the proposed project, learn about the NEPA process, understand the responsibilities and authorities of the federal agency, keep up to date on public meetings and comment periods, get answers to frequently asked questions, and view agency notifications.
  • Comments on the scope of the analysis are not counted as votes or as part of a referendum on Navy decisions. They are used during development of the document and analyses, and ensure that the impacts are adequately determined before the Navy makes a final decision on the proposed project. Therefore, avoid comments that state “I am in favor of this project,” or “I am opposed to this project.” Remember that the more clear, concise, and relevant your comments are, the more likely it is that they will be utilized to improve the draft and final documents and affect the agency decisions.

Cooperating Agency

A cooperating agency is any agency, other than the lead agency, which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise concerning an environmental impact involved in a proposal. Federal agencies with jurisdiction by law and special expertise with respect to all reasonable alternatives or significant environmental, social, or economic impacts associated with the action will be invited to be a cooperating agency.