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Federal Environmental Review and Permitting 101 Resource

May 26, 2021
Environment, News, News Homepage

Resource from the archive: At the National Association of Development Organizations 2019 Annual Training Conference, Kelsey Owens shared a presentation from the U.S. Department of Transportation on Federal Environmental Review and Permitting 101.

This presentation covered a background on the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) for rural and small metropolitan audiences. Owens recommended beginning the environmental process as early as possible (including in the planning process). This can help avoid costly and lengthy mitigation measures that might be needed if issues are identified later in the process.

The presentation defines basic concepts in environmental review, including lead and cooperating agencies; project purpose and need; scoping; alternatives; direct, indirect, and cumulative effects; and more.

Owens also explained the differences between Categorical Exclusions (which cover the vast majority of projects), Environmental Assessments, and Environmental Impact Statements. Other Environmental Resource Laws that are included in the NEPA process are discussed, along with tools that help with project delivery. Lastly, Owens makes the case to use federal agencies as a resource throughout the process.

In summary, this presentation provides information that can be used by regional and local agencies, together with their state and federal partners, to integrate Planning and Environment Linkages in order to accelerate project delivery.

For more information on the Federal Highway Administration’s work to accelerate project delivery, visit

View the 2019 presentation below.