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Environmental Impact Assessment Reports

Environmental impact assessment reports evaluate the environmental implications of actions by federal, state, and other governmental agencies. This research guide lists 1) resources covering federal and California environmental assessment laws and methodology and 2) resources for locating environmental assessment reports in the HSU Library, in other libraries and on the Internet. For further assistance please contact Robert Sathrum, Natural Resources Librarian.


EIS Title Page

Federal Environmental Impact Assessement Reports

Federal requirements for assessing the environmental impact of federal projects date from 1970 with the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess a project's potential impact on the human environment. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. A flow chart of the federal NEPA process is available as well as a brief Overview of NEPA Requirements.

As an initial step in the environmental review process an Environmental Assessment (EA) may be prepared that determines whether an full environmental review is needed or just a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which indicates that there will be no adverse effects on the environment. Initially some projects may be excluded by categorical exclusion (CATEX). If the initial review determines that there will be a significant impact a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is prepared and made available to the public and other agencies for review and comment. This is subsequently followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The final EIS does not supercede the draft EIS because the final version typically cites information included in the draft. The final step in the process is the filing of a Record of Decision (ROD).

Since 1970 more than 25,000 federal environmental impact statements have been prepared. In recent years approximately 500 draft and final EISs are completed annually. See Environmental Impact Statements Filed 1970-2007 for yearly totals and Calendar Year 2009 Filed EISs for a breakdown by federal agency. With development of enhanced NEPA regulations in 1978 EAs were added as way to comply with NEPA requirements for determining the environmental significance of a project. According to the US Council on Environmental Quality there are 30,000-50,000 EAs prepared annually with the vast majority prepared by just a few agencies, e.g., the US Forest Service estimates it prepares 13,000 EAs each year.

Guides to Federal Assessment Laws and Methodology

NEPANet (U.S.Council on Environmental Quality) is the official NEPA site containing information on statutes, regulations, guidelines, and agency implementing procedures. CEQ has developed general regulations for implementing NEPA with individual agencies developing further regulations.

Other publications and web sites that contain information on federal assessment laws and methology include:

Finding Federal Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in the HSU Library

Most federal environmental impact assessment reports available in the HSU Library are received on federal depository and are located in the U.S. Government Documents Collection. Reports received on depository may be in paper, in microfiche or linked to online fulltext. In addition reports that focus on the local area are located in the Humboldt Room and are Library Use Only. Of the 500 federal EISs produced annually the HSU Library receives approximately 75 each year.

The following three options can be used to locate federal enviromental impact assessement reports (draft and final environmental impact statements, environmenal assessments, FONSIs and RODs) in the HSU Library:

  1. Search the HSU Library Catalog. The catalog indexes federal environmental impact assessment reports located in the Humboldt Room and, since April 1998, reports added to the U.S. Government Documents Collection. There are currently over 1100 EISs, 400 EAs and 70 FONSIs listed in the catalog. To search the catalog you can:
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for, e.g. entering <"environmental impact statement"> will retrieve all EISs listed in the catalog.
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g. entering <"environmental assessment" road> will retrieve all environmental impact assesssment reports dealing with roads listed in the catalog.
    • Use the Subject search option to enter one of the following suggested subjects along with the subdivision environmental aspects, e.g.,< airports environmental aspects>. Most environmental impact assessment reports are cataloged using a subject along with the subdivision environmental aspects. However, not all reports indexed using environmental aspects are environmental impact assesssment reports.
    • airports
      all terrain vehicles
      aluminum plants
      apartment houses
      atomic power plants
      city planning
      coal mines and mining
      dams
      forest roads
      highway planning
      land use
      national parks and reserves
      offshore gas industry
      offshore oil industry
      oil and gas leases
      power plants
      prisons
      recreational areas
      regional planning
      road construction
      sewage disposal
      shopping malls
      waste disposal
      wilderness areas
  2. Search the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. This index can be used to identify federal environmental impact assessment reports published between 1976 and the present that are available in the HSU Library. It also includes reports from 1976 to the present that were not received locally on government depository. Includes links to fulltext if available. Use one or more of the following techniques:
    • Use the default keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking , e.g., entering <environmental impact statement> will retrieve over 3,700 EISs.
    • Use the default keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g., <environmental impact statement decommissioning>.
    • Use the subject keyword search option to enter the phrase environmental aspects along with one of the same subject headings listed for the HSU Library Catalog above, e.g., <roads environmental aspects>.
    To determine local availability, publication format and location there are four pieces of information on the full display record that you need to look for. The full record displays when you click on a publication title. See Catalog of U.S. Government Publications for more detailed information.

  3. Browse the U.S. Documents Collection. You can use the SuDocs Classification System to browse for environmental impact assessment reports prepared by various federal agencies. Following are some suggested SuDocs classification areas to browse for both print reports filed on bookshelves and microfiche reports filed in microfiche cabinets:
  4. A 13.92 & A 13.92/2 Forest Service
    A 57.65 & A 57.65/2 Natural Resources Conservation Service
    D 103.62 Army Corps of Engineers
    D 301.92 Air Force
    C 55.328 National Marine Fisheries Service
    C 55.34 & C 55.34/2 National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
    E 1.20 Department of Energy
    E 2.11 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    I 1.98 Department of the Interior (includes Fish & Wildlife Service, Indian Affairs Bureau, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service)
    I 29.79/5 National Park Service
    I 49.113 US Fish & Wildlife Service
    I 53.59 Bureau of Land Management

    You can also look in the U.S. Documents Shelflist under these same classification numbers for a itemized list of print and microfiche reports received prior to 1998.

Finding Federal Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in Other Libraries & on the Internet

The following sources can be used to identify environmental impact assessment reports produced by federal agencies:

Once you have identified an environmental impact assessment report of interest use the following options to acquire either a fulltext or print copy:


California Environmental Impact Assessement Reports


California requirements for assessing the environmental impact of projects date from 1970 with the enactment of the California Environmental Quality Act. CEQA requires that state and local agencies consider the environmental impact of their decisions when approving a public or private project. A flow chart of the California process is available.

As an initial step in the process an Initial Study may be prepared that determines whether an full environmental review is needed or just a Negative Declaration which indicates that there will be no adverse effects on the environment. If the initial report determines that there will be a significant impact a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared and made available to the public and other agencies for review and comment. This is subsequently followed by a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The final EIR does not supercede the draft EIR because the final version typically cites information included in the draft. The final step in the process is the filing of a Notice of Determination (NOD).

There are approximately 500 environmental impact reports (EIRs) prepared annually under the California Environmental Quality Act. Summary of Postings lists the number of CEQA reports by type that have been filed annually since 1999.

Guides to California Assessement Laws and Methodology

CEQA: the California Environmental Quality Act (CERES) is the official CEQA site that includes current CEQA statutes, legislative history, guidelines, case law, and other general reference material.

Other publications and web sites that contain information on California assessment laws and methology include:

Finding California Environmental Impact Assessment Reports in the HSU Library

Most California environmental impact assessement reports available in the HSU Library are locally focused, are located in the Humboldt Room and are Library Use Only. In addition there are a few reports located in the California Documents Collection and in the general bookstacks. Of the 500 EIRs produced annually in California the HSU Library only acquires approximately seven reports each year.

The following options can be used to locate California enviromental impact assessement reports (draft and final environmental impact reports, initial studies, negative declarations and NODs) in the HSU Library:

  1. Search the HSU Library Catalog. Almost all California environmental impact assessment reports available in the HSU Library are indexed in the catalog. There currently are 180 EIRs, 30 Initial Studies, and 20 Negative Declarations listed in the catalog. To search the catalog you can:
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking , e.g., <"environmental impact report">.
    • Use the Keyword search option to enter the keyword phrase for the type of assessment report you are looking for along with a subject keyword, e.g. entering <"environmental impact report" wastewater> will retrive all EIRs dealing with wastewater that are listed in the catalog.
    • Use the Subject search option to enter the phrase environmental aspects along with one of the subject headings listed in federal section above.
  2. Consult the Index of Environmental Impact Reports Prepared in Humboldt County, CA (TD 194.5 I53 HumCo Collection). This work contains a comprehensive list of EIRs prepared in Humboldt County from 1970 to 1995 and lists local libraries and agencies that have copies available.

  3. Look in the Humboldt County Pamphlet Collection in the Humboldt Room where some Negative Declarations are filed under Environmental Impact Reports - Negative Declarations.

Finding California Environmental Impact Assessment Reports In Other Libraries & on the Internet

The following sources can be used to identify environmental impact assessment reports produced under CEQA. If not available fulltext on the Internet they can be requested on Interlibrary Loan from other libraries which takes an average of nine calendar days to arrive.


Other Environmental Impact Assessment Reports

Guides to Other Assessment Laws and Methodology


Last Updated: August 27, 2012, by Robert Sathrum