The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the public release of a web-based mapping tool developed for Federal agencies to facilitate more efficient and effective environmental reviews and project planning.
The tool, NEPAssist, is part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through innovation, public participation and transparency. NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development.
“NEPA helps ensure that Federal agencies protect the health of our communities and the natural resources that support our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “Making this tool available to the public will help make information more accessible, a key part of our effort to increase transparency for projects that impact American communities.”
“NEPAssist helps users identify the possible impacts of federal projects on local environments and communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making tools like NEPAssist available to the public, EPA is helping citizens to be involved in environmental decisions that affect their community.”
NEPA requires all federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary process. NEPAssist is designed to help promote collaboration and early involvement in the NEPA process by raising important environmental issues at the earliest stages of project development. The mapping tool can be used by Federal agencies to identify alternative project locations, to avoid and minimize impacts, as well as identify potential mitigation areas.
In October 2011, NEPAssist was selected as a White House Council on Environmental Quality National Environmental Policy Act Pilot Project to improve the efficiency of Federal environmental reviews. CEQ has selected five NEPA Pilot Projects that will employ innovative approaches to completing environmental reviews that can be replicated across the Federal Government. For more information on the NEPA Pilots Program, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/nepa-pilot-project.