An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a critical examination of any potential impacts from the proposed project and proposed alternatives. The EIS process starts with a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS and concludes with a Record of Decision (ROD) - a document that explains the reasons for selecting a certain action. FEMA has developed a list of criteria to assist agency officials in determining whether an Environmental Impact Statement is needed. These criteria are:
(i) If an action will result in an extensive change in land use or the commitment of a large amount of land;
(ii) If an action will result in a land use change which is incompatible with the existing or planned land use of the surrounding area;
(iii) If many people will be affected;
(iv) If the environmental impact of the project is likely to be controversial;
(v) If an action will affect, in large measure, wildlife populations and their habitats, important natural resources, floodplains, wetlands, estuaries, beaches, dunes, unstable soils, steep slopes, aquifer recharge areas, or delicate or rare ecosystems, including endangered species;
(vi) If an action will result in a major adverse impact upon air or water quality;
(vii) If an action will adversely affect a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places or eligible for listing on the Register if, after consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an environmental assessment is not deemed sufficient;
(viii) If an action is one of several actions underway or planned for an area and the cumulative impact of these projects is considered significant in terms of the above criteria;
(ix) If an action holds potential for threat or hazard to the public; or
(x) If an action is similar to previous actions determined to require an environmental impact statement.
While the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides a process for Federal agencies to follow when their actions may affect the environment, there are additional laws that provide specific restrictions and protections to the environment and that may actually affect the nature of the action that can be taken. By reviewing a project for extraordinary circumstances in the NEPA review process, an understanding of other issues related to other laws is generated. However, completion of requirements under NEPA may NOT satisfy requirements of other environmental and historic preservation laws and executive orders.