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Open Access Publications from the University of California

NEPA and transportation: need and strategies for early involvement

  • Author(s): Somers, Elaine
  • et al.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to encourage “productive and enjoyable harmony” between humans and their environment, and to encourage wise, i.e., sustainable, decisions. The CEQ implementing regulations require early involvement to “insure planning and decisions reflect environmental values; avoid delays later in the process; and head off potential conflicts.” Additional benefits of early involvement as well as the consequences and symptoms of late involvement are discussed. Based upon EPA Region 10’s experience, the attributes of early involvement are outreach; integration of land use planning, transportation planning, and environmental review; revised/standardized guidance for elements of the NEPA EIS process and other topics; programmatic procedures for legal compliance where appropriate; advance planning for compensatory habitat mitigation; and adoption of an Environmental Management System for construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure. The Oregon “Collaborative Environmental and Transportation Agreement on Streamlining” (CETAS) process is highlighted as an example that embodies all six attributes.

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