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NEPA and Transportation Decisionmaking

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR §§ 1500-1508) addresses the basic decisionmaking framework and action forcing provisions established in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The principles or essential elements of NEPA decisionmaking include:

  • Assessment of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of a proposed action or project
  • Analysis of a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project, based on the applicants defined purpose and need for the project
  • Consideration of appropriate impact mitigation: avoidance, minimization and compensation
  • Interagency participation: coordination and consultation
  • Public involvement including opportunities to participate and comment
  • Documentation and disclosure.

FHWA adopted the policy of managing the NEPA project development and decisionmaking process as an "umbrella," under which all applicable environmental laws, executive orders, and regulations are considered and addressed prior to the final project decision and document approval. Conclusion of the NEPA process results in a decision that addresses multiple concerns and requirements. The FHWA NEPA process allows transportation officials to make project decisions that balance engineering and transportation needs with social, economic, and natural environmental factors. During the process, a wide range of partners including the public, businesses, interest groups, and agencies at all levels of government, provide input into project and environmental decisions.

To learn more about the different NEPA components, visit the NEPA and Transportation Decisionmaking sub-pages: Purpose and Need, Alternatives, Impacts, Mitigation, Interagency Coordination, and Public Involvement.

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