Environmental impact assessment
• Environmental impact assessment is the formal process used to predict the
environmental consequences (positive or negative) of a plan, policy, program, or
project prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. Formal
impact assessments may be governed by rules of administrative
procedure regarding public participation and documentation of decisionmaking,
and may be subject to judicial review. An impact assessment may propose
measures to adjust impacts to acceptable levels or to investigate new
• The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the
environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to proceed with a project.
The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an
environmental impact assessment as "the process of identifying, predicting,
evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of
development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments
made." EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a
predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision makers
to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those
decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the
potential environmental impacts.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
• A document, prepared after careful studies, describing a proposed
development or activity, and disclosing the possible, probable, or certain
effects of that proposal on the environment.
• An EIS should be comprehensive in its treatment of the subject matter,
objective in its approach, and sufficiently specific for a reasonably
intelligent and informed mind to examine the potential environmental
consequences of the carrying out or not carrying out of that proposal.
• An EIS should meet the requirement that it alerts the decision-maker,
members of the public, and the government to the consequences to the
community; it should also explore possible alternatives to the project that
might maximize the benefits while minimizing the disbenefits.
• The purpose of an EIS is to assist the decision-maker in arriving at a better
informed decision than would otherwise have been the case...(Gilpin
1990, p. 72).
• The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not a decision-making end in
itself but a means to a decision-making end.
Finding of No Significant Impact
• A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) presents the reasons why
an action will not have a significant effect on the human
environment. It must include the Environment Assessment(EA) or
summary of the EA that supports the FONSI determination.
• A FONSI is issued when environmental analysis and interagency
review during the EA process find a project to have no significant
impacts on the quality of the environment. The FONSI document is
the EA modified to reflect all applicable comments and responses. If
it was not done in the EA, the FONSI must include the project
sponsor's recommendation or selected alternative. No formal
public circulation of the FONSI is required, but the state
clearinghouse must be notified of the availability of the FONSI.
FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
• The FONSI is a document that explains the reasons why an action
will not have a significant effect on the human environment and,
why, therefore, an EIS will not be required (40 CFR 1508.13). This
FONSI is a stand-alone document but is attached to the
Environmental Assessment (EA) and incorporates the EA by
• The FONSI does not constitute the authorizing document: the
decision record is the authorizing document. “Significance” as used
in NEPA requires considerations of both context and intensity. In
relation to context, I find that the project’s affected region is
localized and the effects of implementation are relevant to people
recreating and living in the area. There would be no societal or
regional impacts and no impacts on potentially affected interests.
• The affected area is comprised of the proposed twelve 250 KW wind turbines sites
and the surrounding area from which they can be seen. Intensity refers to the
severity of effects. The BLM will conduct the actions described using the BMPs
referenced in the EA and limiting severity of the effects to the immediate vicinity
of the proposed twelve wind turbines as described in the Affected Environment
section of the EA.
• While any land management activity invariably and by definition entails
environmental effects, I have determined, based upon the analysis of
environmental impacts contained in the referenced EA (OR-035-08-01), that the
potential impacts raised by the proposed action (which is to issue Joseph
Millworks Inc. a right-of-way grant authorizing the right to install, operate, and
maintain a wind development project on public lands and to also issue a right-of-
way grant to Idaho Power Company authorizing the right to build, operate and
maintain an overhead utility corridor from their existing line on private property
across BLM lands to the Lime Wind Project) will not be significant and that,
therefore, preparation of an environmental impact statement is not required.
• I have evaluated the effects of the proposed action, together with the proposed
mitigating measures, against the tests of significance found at 40 CFR 1508.27. I
have determined that:
• 1. The proposed action would cause no significant impacts, either beneficial or
adverse; all impact would be minimal; most would be of short duration.
• 2. The proposed action would have no effect on public health or safety.
• 3. The proposed action would not affect unique characteristics of the geographic
• 4. The proposed action would have no highly controversial effects.
• 5. The proposed action would have no uncertain effects and would not involve
unique or unknown risks.
• 6. The proposed action is a routine and common project and does not establish a
precedent for future actions.
• 7. The proposed action is not related to any other action being considered by BLM.
• 8. The proposed action would have no adverse effect to any property listed on or
potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
• 9. The proposed action would not significantly adversely affect an endangered or
threatened species, or any habitat critical to an endangered or threatened species.
• 10. The proposed action does not violate any law or requirement imposed for the
protection of the environment. Nancy Lull Date Field Manager Baker Field Office,
Vale District BLM