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NOAA Restoration Center Environmental Compliance
Every major federal action requires an assessment of its environmental impacts, in accordance with the requirements set forth under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementation of NEPA. For actions conducted or led by NOAA, this assessment must also comply with NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6, which describes NOAA’s policies, requirements, and procedures for complying with NEPA and the implementing regulations.
The NOAA Restoration Center’s programs provide funding and technical assistance to agencies and organizations for coastal habitat restoration projects throughout the United States and territories. This support is provided via cooperative agreements, grants and contracts with partner organizations, as well as through technical advisory roles. Although the end result of such support is beneficial to habitat and NOAA trust resources, environmental impact analyses under NEPA must still be conducted to be certain that temporary negative impacts, long-term changes to the immediate environment, and even beneficial impacts are fully considered. A list of completed Restoration Center NEPA analyses is available below.
The Restoration Center’s NEPA Process
Through funding or technical expertise, the Restoration Center supports approximately 200 habitat restoration projects each year. All of these projects are assessed for environmental impacts in accordance with the NEPA process using programmatic NEPA documents.
To increase efficiency and reduce redundancy in conducting NEPA analyses for a large number of federal actions, we developed a Programmatic Environmental Assessment in 2002 and a supplemental document (SPEA) in 2006, available below. These documents covered the majority of foreseeable environmental impacts from commonly implemented project types. The SPEA was created to account for the evolution of type, scope, and overall number of restoration projects we funded, as well as to further streamline environmental review and documentation of NEPA decisions beyond the impacts analyzed in the 2002 assessment. To account for further evolution in the scope and scale of our projects, we are currently analyzing the environmental impacts of our funded activities through a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS).