Course Description

A fast-paced 2-day training course that answers the question, “Is this thing any good?”
Course ID: 
Policy & Regulations
Continuing Education Units: 

Preparing and evaluating Environmental Assessments (EAs)/Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSIs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) is a complex task, and many agencies use contractors to prepare their NEPA Documents. But when those draft documents are submitted, agency staff must review and comment on them, attempting to ensure that the documents prepared by other agencies or their contractors have the necessary content.

This NEPA training course provides the tools needed to review and evaluate the content of NEPA documents, whether prepared by contractors, other agencies, or in-house. There will be a comprehensive introduction for those new to NEPA and a refresher for more experienced professionals. Materials are also relevant to writers of NEPA documents. Illustrative examples will come from excerpts of real-life EAs/FONSIs and EISs.

Emphasis is on the FONSI in particular, but all findings in general; alternatives, both those included and those that may safely be left out; a workable approach to what are called “cumulative impacts”. All materials are modeled according to statutes, regulations, andwinning case law. A major theme is emphasis on using plain language.

Attendees will gain an immensely useful set of tools to answer the question frequently asked when draft documents are received: “Is this thing any good?” The answer will be “Yes”, if it looks like the statutes, regulations, and winning case law.

The instructor is Owen Schmidt, author of NEPA Models and Case Lists as well as a number of other NEPA-related publications, and the instructor for NWETC’s courses titled NEPA: Writing the Perfect EA/FONSI or EIS and Advanced NEPA.

*Reduced tuition is available to employees of Native American tribes, government agencies, nonprofits, students and NAEP members. You may register online or by calling the Northwest Environmental Training Center at (425) 270-3274.

Please wait to receive a course confirmation email, roughly one month prior to the class, before making any travel arrangements.

Attendees will receive a copy of the course book, and downloadable files containing real NEPA documents and more reference material.

Intended Audience: 

This course is designed for anyone who reviews, comments on, revises, plans, or writes NEPA documents, including (EAs)/Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSIs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). Agency personnel or contractors who have any part in the NEPA planning, feedback, and re-writing process will benefit from this course.


More Information

Course Topics

Day 1:

  • NEPA Primer: Basics/Overview
  • The Finding of No Significant Impact in particular
  • The proposed action and alternative actions: Purpose and need in plain language; Projects versus programmatic decisions; How to review the question of
    alternatives for EAs and EISs
  • Alternatives: proposed action, alternative action, no action

Day 2:

  • Impact assessment: cumulative impacts, direct and indirect impacts; connected, cumulative, and similar
    actions: How to review the assessment and comparison of environmental consequences in EAs and EISs
  • Lessons learned: Case Studies (Cube-set payloads…desire to maximize payloads, “~last minute” loading of launch vehicles with small payloads
    in “cube-sets”, NEPA exposure if anomalous? What is adequate NEPA process, public notice…etc? Case study overview & lessons learned from “NEPA Gone Wrong,” the federal Mineral Mining Service (MMS) and the Deepwater Horizon disaster. CEQ report overview of the MMS NEPA treatment of what they did and didn’t do right, consequences -MMS loss of mission & dissolution…evolving to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and post MMS changes/improvements at BOEM regarding NEPA. Any lessons learned, changes to our procedures & documents we should be looking at within NASA and FAA – licensing of commercial Spaceports and launch cycle? NASA using “ACME” rocket companies for Govt payload launches to ISS…astronauts next…NEPA treatment…recent NASA Wallops Island, MD commercial launch Space-X, (with NASA re-supply payload).

What to Bring

Drinks and snacks will be provided each day. Lunch will be on your own.

Billing Information

In order to guarantee a space in a course, the tuition must be paid in full TWO WEEKS before the first day of the course by either check or credit card. State and government agencies paying with a purchase order are allowed payment under the two-week time frame if a copy of the purchase order is received by NWETC.

If You Need to Cancel


  • With 31 or more days notice, we will offer a 100% refund or credit towards a future course. The credit is good for one year and may be applied to any course.
  • With 30-8 days notice, we will offer a course credit towards a future course. The credit is good for one year and may be applied to any course.
  • With fewer than 8 days notice, there is no course credit available

*Please note that attendee replacement is welcome at any time

Disability Accommodations

Disability Accommodations:

No upcoming offerings

Click here to be notified when this course is scheduled in your area. Please note what state is most convenient for you.

*Follow NWETC on twitter, and "like" us on Facebook by clicking the icons: