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Possible Consequences of Not Following National Environmental Policy Act Process

This page lists possible consequences of not following National Environmental Policy Act policies.

Staying in Compliance Helps Avoid:


Enforcement of the NEPA process is by a citizen suit provision meaning anyone can bring a lawsuit against the responsible Federal agency for violation of NEPA. If the federal agency does not properly follow the process of analysis, documentation, disclosure, and consideration in decision making the agency is vulnerable to a lawsuit which begins with an injunction requiring immediate stoppage of work and may take considerable time, effort and cost in attorney fees and court costs to resolve.

Project Delay

The project can be delayed for a number of reasons stemming from noncompliance with NEPA. Some of these include public opposition, review agency interventions, lawsuits, project redesign, rewrite of documents in appropriate form and content.

Denial of Funding

Probably the most common problem. If the applicant begins project implementation before FEMA has completed NEPA review funding will be denied, except in very limited imminent threat emergency situations.

FEMA's environmental policy memo number 3, in the Desk Reference Appendix F, describes this situation. This further emphasizes the need for applicants and states to be informed of the NEPA process and requirement for the federal agency to complete NEPA before any action by applicants.

Negative Perception

A negative perception of FEMA and the applicant can occur when the public finds that the agency neglected to consider the environment, is in violation of environmental law or unable to mitigate the community's suffering because they neglected to follow the process.