Environmental Analysis FAQs

Click the following questions to find the answers.

Q. What is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
A. In 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act into law, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. In passing NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all Federal activities affect the environment and created an affirmative obligation for Federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. NEPA provides a tool for informed agency decision-making. Every agency in the Federal Government has an affirmative obligation to comply with NEPA. The NEPA environmental review process begins when an agency proposes an action. The agency must determine if the action has the potential to affect the quality of the human environment. Agencies may apply one of three levels of NEPA analysis. They may: prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA); or apply a Categorical Exclusion (CE). Under NEPA, when the proposed action has the potential for significant environmental effects, agencies are required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. In the case of this project the lead agency is the Department of the Interior and NEPA analysis will take the form of an EIS..
Q. What is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
A. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was passed in 1970 to institute a statewide policy of environmental protection. CEQA does not directly regulate land uses, but instead requires state and local agencies within California to follow a protocol of analysis and public disclosure of the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects. CEQA applies to projects undertaken, funded or requiring an issuance of a permit, lease, license, or other entitlement by a public agency. Its function is to inform governmental decision makers, and the public regarding the environmental effects of a project on a community, and to:
  • identify ways to reduce adverse impacts;
  • offer alternatives to the project; and
  • disclose to the public why a project was approved or disapproved.
If a project is subject to CEQA, state and local agencies must give consideration to environmental protection in regulating public and private activities, and should not approve projects for which there exist feasible and environmentally superior mitigation measures or alternatives. In the case of this project the lead agency for CEQA is the California Department of Fish and Game and the CEQA analysis will take the form of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Q. Does the Secretarial Determination require action under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
A. Yes, an environmental analysis will be conducted on the forthcoming decision by the Secretary of the Interior on whether four dams on the Klamath River should be removed. This analysis will be conducted in compliance with the NEPA and CEQA. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will prepare a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR). The EIS/EIR will evaluate effects of the proposed Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). The information identified and collected as part of the Secretarial Determination process will will inform the analysis of the EIS/EIR.
Q. What is a joint EIS/EIR?
A. The EIS/EIR will inform the Secretary’s decision whether dam removal is in the public interest, and will inform the States of California and Oregon whether to concur in that determination. The EIS/EIR will programmatically analyze and disclose the effects and impacts on the quality of the human and physical environment that may occur that may occur with a Secretarial Determination that is either in the affirmative or negative.
Q. What types of information will be addressed in the EIS/EIR?
A. Issues to be addressed will include, but are not limited to, effects to biological resources, historic and archaeological resources, geomorphology, hydrology, water quality, air quality, safety, hazardous materials and waste, visual resources, socioeconomics including real estate, and environmental justice. 
Q. Is this process open to the public?
A. Yes, DOI and DFG are seeking public input on issues, alternatives, and concerns with the proposed project. The public has an important role in the NEPA/CEQA process in providing input on what issues should be addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR), and in commenting on the findings in an agency's NEPA documents. The public can participate in the NEPA/CEQA process by attending related hearings or public meetings, and by submitting comments to the lead agencies. The lead agencies must take into consideration all comments received from the public and other parties on the EIS/EIR during scoping and the Draft EIS/EIR comment period.
Q. Can other government agencies be a part of this process?
A. Yes, a federal, state, tribal or local agency having special expertise with respect to an environmental issue or jurisdiction by law may be a cooperating agency during the environmental review process. A cooperating agency has the responsibility to assist the lead agency by participating in the process at the earliest possible time; by participating in the scoping process; in developing information and preparing environmental analyses including portions of the document concerning which the cooperating agency has special expertise; and in making available staff support at the lead agency's request to enhance the lead agency's interdisciplinary capabilities.