Who makes the final decisions?

And what criteria do they use for decision-making?

Fishing BoatThe lead agency that is charged with protecting the greater public interest consults with all of the other state and federal agencies that have participated in the NEPA/EIS process to write a Record of Decision (ROD). In some cases, like the US Forest Service, the ROD is the final decision-making step. In others, the lead federal agency will submit a Draft ROD to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for their consideration. In the end, the Federal CEQ either approves or amends the ROD for final publication.

Sometimes one of the permitting agencies will choose to disagree with the findings in the EIS and will not issue a permit as outlined in the ROD.

The criteria upon which the draft and final decisions are made are defined in NEPA which charges the government with protecting the environment and acting in the best interest of the long term social and economic interest of the public welfare.

Click here to view the formal intent language passed by Congress as an introduction to the NEPA document.