NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making Back to EQD
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California National Historic Trail, CA1.3 Introduction — Actions Requiring NEPA Analysis

NEPA is far-reaching. Whenever the NPS considers an action that could have impacts on the human environment, NEPA is triggered. This is true whether NPS generates the action or the applicant is a private individual or another federal, state, or local agency. While NEPA is only triggered when there is a physical impact on the environment, the CEQ regulations require analysis of social and economic effects in both an EA and an EIS. Social and economic impacts should be analyzed in any NEPA document where they are affected. Socioeconomic impacts include those to minority and low-income communities as specified in the Environmental Justice Executive Order (EO 12898; Feb. 11, 1994).

  Human environment — CEQ defines the human environment as the natural and physical environment, and the relationship of people with that environment (1508.14).  

Federal actions are defined as projects, activities, or programs funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a federal agency, including those carried out by or on behalf of a federal agency; those carried out with federal financial assistance; those requiring a federal permit, license, or approval; and those subject to state or local regulation administered pursuant to a delegation or approval by a federal agency.

These are some examples of federal actions:

  • adopting official policy, such as rules, regulations, and interpretations.
  • adopting formal plans, such as those that guide or prescribe uses of federal resources upon which future agency actions will be based.
  • adopting programs.
  • approving specific projects.
  • approving permits for private or other agency actions on federal land or involving federal resources.
  • approving grants or other funding that involves a large federal presence (i.e., much of the funding for the proposal is from federal sources).
  • conducting ongoing or continuing federal actions.

If any of these actions has the potential to cause environmental impact, whether adverse or beneficial, the NEPA process must be completed before a decision is made.

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