NEPA Terms

Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) - The President's Council on Environmental Quality is the agency responsible for the oversight and development of national environmental policy. Created by NEPA,  CEQ also shares this responsibility with EPA.

Categorical Exclusion - A category of project actions, which a federal agency identifies in its NEPA procedures, that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment.

Cooperating Agency - A federal agency, other than the lead agency, that has legal jurisdiction or special expertise to comment on the project actions of a lead agency.

Cumulative Effects - Effects that are the result of incremental impacts of an action, when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of which agency (federal or non-federal) or person undertakes such action.

Environmental Assessment (EA) - A concise public document that analyzes the environmental impacts of a proposed federal action and provides sufficient evidence to determine the level of significance of the impacts.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - The detailed statement required by NEPA when an agency proposes a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the environment.

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) - A public document that briefly presents the reasons why an action will not have a significant impact on the environment, and therefore, will not require the preparation of an environmental impact statement.

Indirect Effects - Effects that are caused by an action and occur later in time, or at another location, yet are reasonably forseeable in the future.

Lead Agency - The agency or agencies that have the primary responsibility for preparing the environmental impact report or environmental impact statement.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - Federal legislation that establishes environmental policy for the nation. Established in 1969, it provides an interdisciplinary framework for federal agencies to prevent environmental damage and contains "action-forcing" procedures to ensure that federal agency decision-makers take environmental factors into account (42 United States Code).

Notice of Intent (NOI) - The first formal step in the environmental impact statement process, consisting of a notice with the following information: a description of the proposed action and alternatives; a description of the agency's proposed scoping process, including scoping meetings; and the name and address of the persons to contact within the lead agency regarding the environmental impact statement.

Record of Decision (ROD) - A public document that reflects the agency's final decision, rationale behind that decision, and commitments to monitoring and mitigation.

Tiering - The process of preparing multiple levels of environmental review, typically including general matters in broad environmental impact statements, with subsequent more narrowly focused (tiering) environmental impact statements.