The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was enacted by Congress in 1970 (42 U.S.C.A. §4321-4370d) with the main goal of incorporating a “stop and think” step into the procedural aspect of the federal project review process. The Act requires that all federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their actions and possible alternatives to those actions during the planning phases.
Under NEPA, the agency making the decision on the action (the Lead Agency) will determine the adequate level of NEPA review required for a specific project. There are three possible levels of review. The simplest level of review is a Categorical Exclusion (CatEx). This level is reserved for proposed actions which have been historically deemed not to cause significant impacts (actions which have been thoroughly evaluated previously and determined not to pose significant effects).
The second tier of review is the Environmental Assessment (EA). This represents a more thorough level of review than a CatEx, and may yield either a finding of no-significant impact (FONSI) or the need for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Finally, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the highest level of environmental review reserved for “major federal actions” which may have “significant effects” on the quality of the “human environment.”
Trinity Consultants’ team of scientists, consultants, and project managers are experienced in developing and managing diverse NEPA projects and compliance activities. Trinity staff assist with all aspects of NEPA compliance including:
- Development of purpose and need
- Alternatives development and evaluation
- Direct and cumulative study area development
- Characterization of the affected environment
- Categorical Exclusion (CX) determinations
- Environmental baseline surveys
- Environmental Assessments (EA) development
- Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) development
- Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) drafting
- Records of Decision (ROD) review
Trinity Consultants’ diverse staff also has related expertise in air quality and noise modeling, ambient monitoring, and technical support. Consequently, Trinity can assist NEPA project proponents and lead agencies with needed resources that often require additional technical expertise and time.
For assistance with NEPA/EIA, please contact David Strohm at email@example.com or (208) 472-8837.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted in 1970 (Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq). The CEQA Guidelines (14 CCR 15000 et seq) incorporate and interpret both the statutory mandates of CEQA and the principles advanced by judicial decisions and new statutes. CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines require state and local government agencies to inform decision makers and the public about the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects, and to reduce those environmental impacts to the extent feasible.
CEQA and its guidelines are immensely important to California businesses and public agencies, as these regulations affect every sector of the California economy and thousands of “projects” within the state. A “project” is generally defined to include a vast array of private and public sector actions, including commercial construction, industrial facility expansions, modifications to a power plant, highways and other public works, utility projects, residential developments and many others.
The public agency approving the CEQA “project” is known as the Lead Agency. The Lead Agency is initially responsible for preparing a brief CEQA Checklist (also known as an Initial Study) to assess whether the project has the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts. If a project will not cause any significant adverse environmental impacts, the Lead Agency may issue a “Negative Declaration” or “Mitigated Negative Declaration” document. If the project may cause significant adverse environmental impacts, the Lead Agency must prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). An EIR contains in-depth technical studies of potential impacts and measures to reduce or avoid those impacts, as well as an analysis of project alternatives. The CEQA process provides a mechanism to inform decision makers and the public of the potential environmental impacts and to facilitate public review and input.
Air Quality and Other Technical Studies
An in-depth air quality technical study is typically required in air basins or districts which exceed state and federal ambient air quality standards and for projects which have the potential to exceed air quality impact thresholds. These air quality impact analyses (AQIAs) become the basis of an Air Quality Chapter in an EIR and include complex emission estimates and modeling to comply with CEQA and other regulatory requirements, including the following:
- Ambient air quality modeling
- Criteria pollutant emission estimates for all construction and operational activities – stationary, mobile, and area sources
- Cumulative criteria pollutant emission impacts
- Greenhouse gas emission estimates, inventories, reduction strategies, and climate action plans (AB 32)
- Health risk assessments (AB 2588)
- Odor assessments
Trinity Consultants’ experienced environmental professionals provide CEQA documentation and AQIA services. Trinity’s CEQA regulatory expertise, technical proficiency, responsiveness, and creative thinking are key to ensuring complete client satisfaction. Trinity’s Quality Management System, ISO 9001-certified in its Dallas headquarters office, ensures that clients receive consistent, high quality CEQA services. Trinity’s CEQA team has diverse project experience covering a wide range of industry sectors. Our CEQA-related services also include:
- Power plant environmental compliance documentsfor the California Energy Commission
- Air and multi-disciplinary permit coordination
- Agency negotiation and strategic planning
- Due diligence and records review
- Enforcement, litigation, liability, and expert witness support
Trinity’s California team works effectively with all California air quality districts, the California Air Resources Board, and city/county agencies statewide.
For assistance with CEQA, please contact Mr. Vineet Masuraha, Regional Director, at (949) 567-9880 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655.