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What Is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An EIS is a document that describes the impacts on the environment as a result of a proposed action.

Purpose of an EIS

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document prepared to describe the effects for proposed activities on the environment. "Environment," in this case, is defined as the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. This means that the "environment" considered in an EIS includes land, water, air, structures, living organisms, environmental values at the site, and the social, cultural, and economic aspects. An "impact" is a change in consequence that results from an activity. Impacts can be positive or negative or both. An EIS describes impacts, as well as ways to "mitigate" impacts. To "mitigate" means to lessen or remove negative impacts.

Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, is a document that describes the impacts on the environment as a result of a proposed action. It also describes impacts of alternatives as well as plans to mitigate the impacts.

EIS Requirements

Federal laws and regulations require the federal government to evaluate the effects of its actions on the environment and to consider alternative courses of action. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) specifies when an environmental impact statement (EIS) must be prepared. NEPA regulations require, among other things, federal agencies to include discussion of a proposed action and the range of reasonable alternatives in an EIS. Sufficient information must be included in the EIS for reviewers to evaluate the relative merits of each alternative. Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations provide the recommended format and content of Environmental Impact Statements.