National Environmental Protection Act
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal law enacted in 1970 by President Nixon that requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of their actions. It also established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Federal agencies must prepare Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) stating the potential environmental effects of proposed actions.
Fun Fact: Over 100 nations have enacted environmental policies modeled after NEPA.
Imagine this: A new solar energy company wants to build a solar farm on federal public land in the desert. They need to bulldoze an area of good habitat for endemic wildlife and plantlife like ancient creosote circles. Renewable energy can help slow climate change, but does it have to destroy a healthy part of the ecosystem in the process? That’s where NEPA comes in. Before a federal agency approves the project, it must consider how that project will impact the environment and communities. Public comment is crucial in the NEPA process.
Our goals are to make sure that community members:
- Understand how NEPA works so that you can get involved in public processes to hold federal agencies accountable for how they manage our natural resources, public lands, and the impacts of their decisions on the environment.
- Understand the importance of NEPA so that you can mobilize and take action to defend it from any attempts to weaken or dismantle it. In recent years there have been attempts to weaken or eliminate NEPA. If that happens, it would take power away from the people to hold agencies accountable for how they manage our natural resources and public lands; communities would lose their voice in the process.
- Focus attention on specific projects in the California desert to ensure the NEPA process is utilized to protect the ecology of the California desert, and its communities’ way of life.