NAEP Annual National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Report for 2016

The National Association of Environmental Professionals’ (NAEP’s) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Practice (formerly known as the NEPA Working Group) is pleased to present our ninth NEPA Annual Report.  This report contains summaries of the latest developments in NEPA as well as the NEPA Practice’s efforts for the past year.  This annual report is prepared and published through the initiative and volunteer efforts of members of the NAEP’s NEPA Practice.  The 2016 NEPA Annual Report includes:

  1. Introduction
  2. The NEPA Practice in 2016
  3. Just the Stats on 2016 EISs filed with the U.S. EPA
  4. Preparation Times for Environmental Impact Statements Made Available in 2016
  5. Recent Congressional Legislation Regarding NEPA
  6. 2016 NEPA Cases in the U.S. Courts of Appeal and Cumulative Impacts Cases

In 2016, announcements of 312 Draft, Final, and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) were published in the Federal Register.  The Forest Service published the most documents with 67 (21% of total), followed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (37/12%), Bureau of Land Management (30/10%), Fish and Wildlife Service (18/17%), and Federal Highway Administration (16/5%) (based on information in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database of EISs; http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/nepa/eisdata.html).  Additional statistics, including those on EPA’s ratings of Draft EISs, is provided in Section 3 of the Annual Report, “Just the Stats.”

The NEPA Annual Report also found that the average time to prepare the 177 Final EISs issued in 2016 (measured from Notice of Intent to Final EIS) was 5.1 years.  While this continues the recent trend of increasing Final EIS preparation times, the average time to prepare the Draft EISs issued in 2016 again showed signs of a decreasing trend. Seventeen percent of Final EISs were prepared in two years or less, a small increase from 2015.  Substantially more information is provided in Section 4 of the Annual Report, “Preparation Times for Environmental Impact Statements Made Available in 2016.”

Although numerous bills addressing NEPA were introduced in the 114th Congress, few that were enacted into law contained substantive NEPA provisions. Among those with substantive changes to NEPA practices were the FAST (“Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, particularly its Title XLI, and the WIIN (Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation) Act.  These acts, along with the NEPA-related bills introduced in the 114th Congress and early in the 115th Congress, are described in Section 3 of the Annual Report, “Recent Congressional Legislation Regarding NEPA.”

In 2016, the U.S. Courts of Appeal issued 27 substantive decisions involving implementation of NEPA. The 27 cases involved 7 different departments and agencies, with the agencies prevailing in 21 (79 percent) of the cases.  Detailed summaries of these cases are provided in Sections 6 and 7 of the Annual Report.

The 2016 NEPA Annual Report is available at no cost to NAEP members as an NAEP Member Benefit.  NAEP also provides copies to Federal agency NEPA liaisons.

Past issues of the NAEP NEPA Annual Report are available on the NAEP website at https://naep.memberclicks.net/members-only-section.

For a full copy of the 2016 report click here to join NAEP – NAEP Membership Application

If you are already a member of NAEP and need assistance logging onto the NAEP website please contact Lynne Bynder at lbynder@naep.org or by phone at 760-636-0065