National Environmental Policy Act
Official Citation
42 U.S.C. §§4321-4370h
ELR Citation
ELR STAT. NEPA §§2-209
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Statute Outline


The statute sets forth the general policy of the federal government concerning the environment. [NEPA §2] The regulations and laws of the United States should be interpreted and administered according to this policy. [NEPA §102(1)]

The federal government, in cooperation with state and local governments and other concerned public and private organizations, shall use all practicable means to foster and promote the general welfare; develop conditions for the harmonious coexistence of people and nature; and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans. [NEPA §101(a)]

The federal agencies shall use a systematic interdisciplinary approach in making decisions that may affect the environment. [NEPA §102(2)(A)]

Environmental Impact Statements

For all major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, federal agencies shall prepare a detailed statement on the environmental impact of the proposed action. The statute establishes the requirements for such statements and the procedures for preparing them. [NEPA §102(2)(C)]

Under certain circumstances, state agencies or officials may prepare environmental impact statements (EISs) for major federal actions funded under programs of grants to states. This does not relieve federal officials of their responsibility for such EISs. [NEPA §102(2)(D)]

Federal agencies shall develop and describe appropriate alternatives to a recommended course of action in any proposal that involves unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources. [NEPA §102(2)(E)]

Environmental Quality Reports

The President shall submit to Congress an annual Environmental Quality Report describing the status of the nation’s environment and trends in the quality and use of the environment. [NEPA §201]

Council on Environmental Quality

The statute creates the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to advise the President on the preparation of the Environmental Quality Report, to gather information concerning trends in the quality of the environment, to appraise actions of the federal government in light of the policies set forth in this statute, to make recommendations, and to conduct studies. [NEPA §§202, 204]

Full Statute

The statute is available from the U.S. Government Publishing Office: