What Is an Environmental Impact Statement?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a report addressing the potential effects on the environment of a proposed federal government project. These statements are required by Section 102(2) (C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and are reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The public may comment on an EIS while it is in its draft stage and the comments may be taken into consideration when the EIS is being finalized. All statements are published in the Federal Register and are also available online at the EPA's website.

Key Takeaways

  • Environmental Impact Statements are reports that discuss the potential impact on the environment of proposed federal government projects.
  • They are required by law and are reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The public can weigh in on the EIS statements when they are in the draft stage.
  • The statements are published in the Federal Register and are available to read on the EPA's web site.

How an Environmental Impact Statement Works

In addition to outlining proposed actions, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) also outlines possible alternatives and the potential environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives. Some states, for example, California, have adopted similar requirements for their taxpayer-funded projects.

All current EIS's that are in the draft stage are made available for the public to read on the U.S. Department of Energy's NEPA website, at energy.gov. The site also makes statements available after they have been finalized.

Liquid natural gas, remediation, electric transmission, and ecosystem management are among the EIS topics listed on the EPA's website.

Examples of Environmental Impact Statements

For example, on the site as of November 2019 is a finalized version of an Environmental Impact Statement regarding the Gulf (LNG) Terminal in Jackson County, Mississippi. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) put together an EIS that looked at the potential environmental impacts of a proposal to add natural gas liquefaction and export capabilities at the already-functioning Gulf LNG Terminal. The Department of Energy (DOE) was involved in preparing the EIS.

The DOE prepared another EIS, in 2018, for remediation activities in California. The completed EIS was drawn up to look at the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for running cleanup activities in part of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and the adjoining Northern Buffer Zone, in Ventura County, California. Traces of chemicals from historical operations in the area associated with soil, buildings, and groundwater, as well as soil contamination in the Northern Buffer Zone, needed to be cleaned up.

There is a currently active EIS on the website that the public is allowed to view and comment on regarding electric transmission. The Bureau of Land Management and the DOE’s Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) put together an EIS that looks at the potential environmental impacts of a proposal to build 305 miles of 500-kV transmission line from northeast Oregon to southwest Idaho. BPA wants to partially fund the project. Consumers can click here to read it and provide feedback.