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Frequently Asked Questions About NRC's Role Under the National Environmental Policy Act

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What is NEPA?

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1982, as amended, establishes a national policy to

  • encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment
  • promote efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man
  • enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation.

What is NRC's NEPA role?

  • NRC developed regulations that implement NEPA in 10 CFR Part 51, "Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions."
  • NRC develops, as required by NEPA, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for "major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." For example, licensing any nuclear facility is considered a "major Federal action" requiring an EIS.

What will NRC's review cover?

A typical review will include analysis of impacts to air, water, animal life, vegetation, natural resources, and property of historic, archaeological, or architectural significance. The review will evaluate cumulative, economic, social, cultural, and other impacts and environmental justice.

What does NRC's EIS process include?

  • The EIS process begins when an applicant submits information to start construction of a nuclear facility. As part of the application, the applicant submits an Environmental Report.

  • NRC issues a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS and will schedule at least one public Scoping Meeting. Scoping is a process for defining the range of actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered.

  • Once NRC holds the Scoping Meeting and the applicant's Environmental Report, NRC publishes a draft EIS for public comment.

  • After considering the comments, NRC publishes a final EIS that includes a discussion of all comments.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, December 30, 2015