NEPA and Hurricane Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding Efforts [September 28, 2005] [open pdf - 55KB]
From the Summary: "As local, state, and federal agencies respond to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, agency officials must determine the extent to which certain environmental laws and regulatory requirements will apply to their response, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. The requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.) has drawn particular attention in the wake of the disaster. Signed into law by President Nixon on January 1, 1970, NEPA was the first of several major environmental laws passed in the 1970s. It declared a national policy to protect the environment and created a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Executive Office of the President. To implement the national policy, NEPA required that a detailed statement of environmental impacts be prepared for all major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. The 'detailed statement' would ultimately be referred to as an environmental impact statement or EIS. For many federal actions undertaken in response to an emergency or major disaster, NEPA's environmental review requirements are exempted under provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act); the CEQ regulations also allow for 'emergency alternative arrangements' of NEPA requirements. […]. This report provides an overview of NEPA requirements relevant to the hurricanes response and recovery efforts, its application to emergency and non-emergency actions related to the disaster, NEPA's role in two past flood and hurricane control projects that have been discussed in the press, and legislative proposals that relate to the NEPA process. It will be updated as developments warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33104