John S. McCain III
National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution

ECCR and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is the nation's basic environmental law that applies to almost all actions taken by—or approved by—federal agencies likely to have a significant environmental effect.

“[The Congress] … declares that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.”

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 USC 4331)

The National Center and Section 101 of NEPA

In 2000, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators asked the National Center to investigate "strategies for using collaboration, consensus building, and dispute resolution to achieve the substantive goals" of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.). In response to the Senators' inquiry, the National Environmental Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee (NECRAC) was chartered to provide advice on future program directives–specifically, how to address the National Center's statutory mandate to assist the federal government in implementing Section 101 of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4331). The NECRAC Committee’s reports are available by clicking the links below:

Collaboration in NEPA

Collaboration in NEPA: A Handbook for NEPA Practitioners

One of the primary goals of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to encourage meaningful public input and involvement in the process of evaluating the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions. The purpose of this handbook is to assist those within federal agencies, who are responsible for conducting environmental reviews, in expanding the effective use of collaboration as part of the NEPA process. Other planning processes that tie into the NEPA process, such as the state and local long range transportation and land use planning processes, can provide additional opportunities for collaboration. Among its many conclusions, the NEPA Task Force found that collaborative approaches to engaging the public and assessing the impacts of federal actions under NEPA can improve the quality of decisionmaking and increase public trust and confidence in agency decisions.

NEPA Pilots Projects Initiative, August 2001

In the fall of 2000, U.S. Senators Craig Thomas, Max Baucus, Mike Crapo, and Harry Reid asked the National Center to explore the use of pilot projects to learn more about how to improve the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the context of natural resources planning and management through increased collaboration, consensus building, and appropriate dispute resolution processes.

A Citizen's Guide to The NEPA - Having Your Voice Heard

This 2007 guide explains the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and how it is implemented, as well as how people outside the federal government—individual citizens; private sector permit applicants; members of organized groups; and representatives of tribal, state, or local governments—can better participate in the federal environmental impact assessment process.

Implementing NEPA

Modernizing NEPA Implementation, September 2003

This report presents the results of research and consultations by the National Environmental Policy Task Force concerning the implementation of the environmental impact analysis requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).