When Does NEPA Apply?

When and Where Does NEPA Apply in Rural Alaska?

Mountains and Mist photo

NEPA applies whenever a proposed activity or action:

  • is proposed on federal lands, or
  • requires passage across federal lands, or
  • will be funded in part or in whole by federal money, or
  • will affect the air or water quality that is regulated by federal law. 

When any one of these four conditions are present, the federal agency with the greatest expertise, regulatory authority and capacity to manage the NEPA process for the proposed project becomes the Lead Agency for that project. The federal agencies that most often take the lead role in a NEPA process in Alaska are one of the following:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
  • Forest Service (USFS)
  • Corps of Engineers (COE)
  • National Parks Service
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Any of these federal agencies that has regulatory jurisdiction in the geographic area or over the potentially affected resources can be considered for the NEPA lead agency role by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Learn more about the CEQ

The CEQ gives the Lead Agency a great deal of administrative responsibility in that the Lead must 1) provide a single point of contact for the public, and 2) coordinate all of the other local, state and federal agencies with jurisdiction in the project area. Lead agencies are responsible for making the NEPA process go efficiently and be as responsive as possible to public questions and concerns.