DOE’s NEPA regulations list classes of actions that normally do not require an EIS or an EA because, individually or cumulatively, they do not have the potential for significant environmental impacts. Examples are information gathering activities and property transfers when the land use is unchanged.
Environmental assessment (EA)
When the need for an EIS is unclear, an agency may prepare an EA to determine whether to prepare in EIS, or to issue a finding of no significant impact (FONSI). An EA is a brief analysis. DOE’s NEPA procedures provide notification and comment opportunities for host states and tribes. BPA may also provide notification and comment opportunities for other interested people, as applicable. BPA then considers any comments received, makes revisions as appropriate, and issues the EA.
Environmental impact statement (EIS)
For major federal actions that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment, preparation of an EIS is required. An EIS is a detailed analysis of the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action and the range of reasonable alternatives. Public participation is an important part of the EIS process. The EIS process begins with a notice of intent (NOI), which is a formal announcement of BPA’s intent to prepare an EIS. The endpoint for the EIS process is the record of decision (ROD), which is BPA’s decision document for an EIS.
Public Involvement under NEPA provides an opportunity for the public to comment on major federal actions that concern or affect them.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for conservation of listed animal and plant species and their designated critical habitat, and specifies consultation and permitting requirements.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires consultation on activities that will adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and other statutes require an evaluation of effects on historic properties and cultural resources, and consultation with affected states and tribes.
The Clean Water Act require the protection of water resources including wetlands, riparian areas, and floodplains.