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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Environmental Policy and Justice (EPJ) Overview

Environment Overview


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental and related social and economic impacts of their proposed actions by providing a framework for environmental planning and decision-making. NEPA ensures that federal agencies incorporate these environmental considerations in a systematic interdisciplinary approach. NEPA requires the preparation of environmental assessments (EAs) to assess the environmental impact of discretionary proposed actions and alternatives to analyze any effects on the environment. When a proposed action will have a significant impact of the human environment, the agency prepares an environmental impact statement (EIS). These NEPA documents should be tiered when it would eliminate repetitive discussions of the same issues, focus on the actual issues ripe for decision, and exclude from consideration issues already decided or not yet ripe at each level of environmental review. Tiering may also be appropriate for different stages of actions (40 CFR 1501.11).

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) oversees NEPA implementation through interpreting the law and addressing NEPA's action forcing provisions in the form of regulations and guidance.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is committed to the examination and avoidance of potential impacts to social and natural environment when considering proposed actions.

PHMSA's Mission

PHMSA's mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. To do this, the agency establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents. We also prepare the public and first responders to reduce consequences if an incident does occur.

PHMSA Environmental Reviews

PHMSA's environmental staff are responsible for managing the environmental review process for PHMSA action that are subject to NEPA, including rulemakings, special permits (also known as regulatory waivers), and certain grants. PHMSA does not conduct NEPA reviews for proposed new pipeline construction projects because PHMSA does not have infrastructure siting authority. EPJ is also working on PHMSA-specific NEPA regulations to build upon the already existing Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts DOT Order 5610.1C.