You are here: Public Involvement > Overview of the National Environmental Policy

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires federal agencies to examine the potential environmental effects of their proposed actions to allow for more informed decision making. An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a public document of the potential effects that a major federal action might have on the human, natural and physical environment. At the conclusion of the NEPA process, the federal agency determines whether there are significant effects that cannot be mitigated (at which point an Environmental Impact Statement must be done) or whether there are no immitigable significant impacts, at which point a “Finding of No Significant Impact” or “FONSI” would be signed by the federal agency.

An Overseas Environmental Assessment (OEA) is prepared to comply with Executive Order 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions (1979). This order requires federal agencies to consider the potential effects of their actions on the environment outside U.S. territorial waters. If the analysis of the OEA concludes that no significant harm is posed by implementation of the Proposed Action, a “Finding of No Significant Harm” or “FONSH” would be signed by the federal agency.

This EA/OEA (and the signed FONSI/FONSH) satisfies the requirements of both NEPA and Executive Order 12114.