1st Edition

Preparing NEPA Environmental Assessments
A User’s Guide to Best Professional Practices

ISBN 9781138075054
Published March 31, 2017 by CRC Press
316 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

USD $68.95

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Book Description

Although upwards of 50,000 environmental assessments (EAs) are prepared annually—compared to some 500 environmental impact statements (EISs)—the focus of U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations is on defining requirements for preparing EISs. Written by Charles Eccleston and J. Peyton Doub, who have established themselves among the top environmental experts in the world, Preparing NEPA Environmental Assessments: A User’s Guide to Best Professional Practices fills the need for an authoritative and comprehensive guide on how to prepare EAs.

Bridging the regulatory gap, this book identifies relevant EIS regulatory requirements that can be logically interpreted to also apply to EAs. It compiles and synthesizes information scattered throughout NEPA’s regulations, executive orders, and guidance documents, and incorporates case law to provide additional clarification. The authors also draw on the professional experiences and best professional practices (BPP) of NEPA practitioners.

From the fundamentals to more advanced topics, the book presents a consistent methodology to help beginners, students, and professionals manage, analyze, and write legally sufficient EAs. It addresses dilemmas that have traditionally plagued preparation of EAs, provides BPPs, tools, and approaches for resolving problems, and introduces methods for streamlining the EA process.

Building on Eccleston’s previous guide to EAs, Effective Environmental Assessments: How to Manage and Prepare NEPA Assessments (2001), this book reflects the rapid changes in government policy over the past ten years. An indispensable source of practical information, it provides readers with step-by-step direction and best practices for preparing defensible EAs.

Table of Contents

Section 1: The NEPA Environmental Assessment Process

Overview and Historical Development of NEPA
Origin of Environmental Movement
The Historical Development of NEPA
Brief Overview of NEPA
The NEPA Regulations
Overview of the NEPA Planning Process

General Concepts and Requirements
NEPA is a Planning and Decision-Making Process
Interim Actions
Integrating NEPA with Other Requirements
Conducting an Early and Open Process
Systematic and Interdisciplinary Planning
Writing Documents in Plain English
Incorporation by Reference
Adopting Another Agency’s EA
A Fair and Objective Analysis
Dealing with Incomplete and Unavailable Information

NEPA and Environmental Impact Analysis
Environmental Disturbances
Receptors and Resources
Impact Analysis
Mitigation and Monitoring

The Threshold Question: Determining Whether an EA or an EIS is Required
Human Environment
Categorical Exclusions
Long Versus Short Environmental Assessments

The Environmental Assessment Process
Planning the Environmental Assessment
The Analysis in an EA
Streamlining the EA Compliance Process
Issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact
The Administrative Record
Serving as an Expert Witness

The Environmental Impact Assessment
Sliding-Scale Approach
Identifying Alternatives
Human Health Effects
Accident Analyses
Considering Other Environmental Requirements
Environmental Justice

Writing the Environmental Assessment
General Direction for Preparing an EA
Typical Contents of an Environmental Assessment
Performing the Analysis
Specific Documentation Requirements and Guidance

Assessing Significance
Definitions and Use of the Term "Significance"
General Procedure for Determining Significance
Significant Beneficial Impacts

The Finding of No Significant Impacts
Reaching a Determination of Nonsignificance
Preparing the FONSI
Mitigated FONSIs

Section 2: NEPA Case Law and Non-NEPA Environmental Assessment Documents

An Overview of NEPA Law and Litigation
Principles Underlying Legal Interpretations of NEPA
Process for Passing Laws and Regulations
Interpreting NEPA’s Regulatory Requirements
A Substantive Versus Procedural Process
Requirements for Bringing a Successful Environmental Lawsuit
The Litigation Process
Legal Standards Applied in Reviewing NEPA
Judicial Remedies in NEPA Suits
Recent Case Law Involving NEPA
EA Case Law and EAs
Study of Alternatives Analysis in NEPA Documents
Other Cases Reflecting on the Preparation of EAs

Specialized Non-NEPA Environmental Assessment Documents
The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
The Cell Tower NEPA Review
The Biological Assessment
Environmental Assessments and State NEPA Programs



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Charles H. Eccleston is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America as a nationally recognized NEPA authority. He is a consultant, author, and lecturer with some 30 years experience in NEPA, environmental policy, and analyzing the impacts of projects and energy-related policies. He also frequently consults on NEPA lawsuits. He is the author of nine books and 80 professional publications. Some of his recent books include:

J. Peyton Doub, CEP, PWS, is an Environmental Scientist and expert in preparing EAs. He has more than 20 years experience preparing EAs and EISs, wetlands and natural resources investigations, and other environmental reports. He is the author of The Endangered Species Act: History, Implementation, Successes, and Controversies (CRC Press, 2012).


Praise for the previous book, Effective Environmental Assessments: How to Manage and Write NEPA Assessments (CRC Press, 2001):

"Mr. Eccleston has written a most thorough guide to managing and preparing EAs that puts NEPA back into its original perspective—a planning and decision-making tool … comprehensively covers the EA process … provides practical guidance for effectively preparing an analysis …"
—Mr. Russell W. Peterson, Former Governor of Delaware and Former Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)

"NEPA is the cornerstone of our environmental statutory structure and provides a strategic look for long-range planning. By explaining the environmental assessment process in a scholarly, yet easily understandable way, Charles Eccleston has performed an enormous service for all who care about the protection of our country's—and indeed the world's—environment."
—Michael R. Deland, Former Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality

"Charles Eccleston has performed a real service in authoring Effective Environmental Assessments: How to Manage and Write NEPA Assessments. The book fills a void and concentrates on environmental assessments, a critical but underemphasized part of the NEPA process. It is, furthermore, both useful and user-friendly."
—Nicholas C. Yost, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, former General Counsel of the CEQ charged with responsibility for writing the 1978 CEQ NEPA Regulations