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NIJ NEPA Process


Proposed Agency Action

Includes policies, plans, programs, and projects. 

Environmental Assessment (EA)

An environmental assessment (EA) is a concise public document for which the federal agency is responsible that serves to briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). 

If your project falls under the following criteria, it will likely require an EA:

  1. Renovations which change the basic prior use of a facility or significantly change the size.
  2. New construction.
  3. Research and technology whose anticipated and future application could be expected to have an effect on the environment.
  4. Implementation of programs involving the use of chemicals.
  5. Other actions in which it is determined by the NIJ NEPA Coordinator to be necessary and appropriate.

Covered by Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA)

NIJ has prepared a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) to address the potential environmental effects of a number of NIJ-funded programs and activities. 

The following actions typically fall within the scope of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment, and NEPA compliance can be met through completion and approval of the NEPA Checklist: 

  • Procurement of supplies containing chemicals 
  • Minor Renovations 
  • Research activities 
  • Lab work that involves the use of chemicals

Categorical Exclusion (CATEX)

Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs) are a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect in procedures adopted by a federal agency.

The following actions are considered Categorical Exclusions for NIJ:

  1. The bulk of the funded efforts; training programs, court improvement projects, research, and gathering statistical data. 
  2. Minor renovation projects or remodeling.

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

The EA process concludes with either a FONSI or the determination to proceed with an EIS. If the result of the EA is a FONSI, the agency action is permitted to take place.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

If the result of an EA is not a FONSI, the Federal agency must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. This indicates that it is proposing a major federal action significantly altering the quality of the human environment.

NEPA Checklist

If a project falls within the scope of the Programmatic Environmental Assessment, the next step is to complete a NEPA Checklist

Review for Extraordinary Circumstances

Extraordinary circumstances typically include effects to endangered species, protected cultural sites, and wetlands. If there are no extraordinary circumstances indicating that the effects of the action may be significant, then the agency can proceed with the action.