The National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) was adopted in 1969 in order to ensure that the public and decision makers are aware of impacts to the environment before undertaking any major federal action. The practical result of NEPA on oil and gas on public lands is the opportunity for public involvement in the “NEPA process.” The NEPA process is most widely recognized for the opportunity that is provided by law for the public to comment on environmental impact statements (EISs), environmental assessments (EAs), and scoping requests (scoping). BLM/FS are also required to seek out comment from other federal agencies and local governments that might be impacted by the project.
The NEPA process is designed to put the onus of disclosing likely impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures on the federal agencies and the proponents of the project. The public participation requirement was included in recognition that agencies and developers often “overlook” important impacts. This section describes the NEPA process as it applies to oil and gas development and is broken out into four stages: planning, leasing, full field development, and permits to drill.
Additional Information on the NEPA Process: