|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and what does it do?
- A. NEPA is
a federal statute passed by Congress in 1969. It sets forth one of the
most comprehensive environmental policies of our nation, and it requires
federal government agencies to consider the potential environmental
impacts of major federal actions by preparing Environmental Impact Statements
(“EISs”). EISs include descriptions of the affected environment,
possible alternatives to proposed actions, and mitigating measures to
reduce impacts on the environment. NEPA also provides opportunity for
public involvement in the EIS process through written comments and participation
in adjudicatory proceedings.
are “little NEPAs”?
- A. “Little
NEPAs,” or State Environmental Quality Acts (SEQAs), are environmental
policy acts enacted by state legislatures rather than by the United
States Congress. These acts generally mirror the federal act and contain
similar provisions – that is, they require state and sometimes
local governments to prepare statements assessing the potential environmental
impacts of their actions.
do states need SEQAs if we already have the federal NEPA?
- A. The federal
NEPA only affects the proposed actions of the federal government; it
does not affect the actions of state, county, or municipal governments.
Environmental quality acts are needed in each state to ensure that state
and local governmental entities consider the environmental impacts of
their projects and decisions.
implementation of a SEQA slow development and add to the costs of state-funded
- A. The requirements
of SEQAs may add to the initial costs of proposed projects and slow
the approval procedures. However, these requirements pay off in the
long run. Often, the evaluation required by SEQAs produces a better
and cheaper project. In addition, involving affected stakeholders in
the decision can minimize controversy and avoid litigation. This type
of legislation saves taxpayers money in the long run.
many states currently have SEQAs?
- A. To date,
sixteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have enacted
SEQAs. The sixteen states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida,
Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York,
North Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. (See
SERC’s “State Environmental Quality Acts” State Activity
page for a list of current
SEQAs and their citations.)
my state does not have a SEQA, what can I do to help get one enacted?
- A. One way
to get involved is to contact your state legislator, share the information
contained in these web pages, and encourage her or him to sponsor a
bill. You may also determine if any local environmental groups are working
on this issue, and volunteer your time and efforts to help get a SEQA
bill introduced in the state legislature.
was last updated on October 21, 2003.
|State Environmental Resource Center
106 East Doty Street, Suite 200 §
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-252-9800 §