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National Environmental Compliance and Invasive Species Laws

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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Endangered Species Act

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act

Clean Water Act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act

Federal Noxious Weed Act

National Invasive Species Act

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NEPA/ESA Compliance page

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

To the extent possible, Federal agencies are required to work according to the policies set forth in NEPA and its implementing regulations. NEPA policies go beyond the action-forcing provisions of Section 102(2) (c) by requiring (in Section 101) the integration of NEPA in considerations into planning and other decision-making processes. The act is an effort to encourage the wise use of natural resources by requiring the consideration of environmental factors in Federal agency decision-making and by opening that decision-making to the involvement and scrutiny of State and local agencies, American Indian tribal governments and agencies, concerned and general publics, and private organizations. The intent of NEPA is to have Federal agencies consider environmental issues in all decision-making regardless of any requirement for an environmental document.

Compliance with NEPA is a Federal responsibility and involves the participation of Federal, State, tribal, local agencies, and concerned and affected publics in the planning process. The act requires full disclosure about major actions taken by Federal agencies and accompanying alternatives, impacts, and possible mitigation. This act also requires that environmental concerns and impacts be evaluated during planning and decision-making. Properly applied, NEPA results in informed and better decisions.

In Reclamation, NEPA compliance is the responsibility of all Reclamation employees, not just that of management or the Environmental Compliance Staff. See Reclamation’s NEPA Handbook for more information, the CEQ’ Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR 1500-1508), Forty Most Asked Questions (Vol. 46, No.55, 18026-18038, 03/23/81), and DM Part 516. The regulations in 40 CFR 1500-1508 requires to the fullest extent possible, the NEPA processes with the requirements of other statutes such as the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, National Historic Presevation Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws and Environmental Opinions.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), Public Law 93-295, as Amended and
50 CFR Part 402 Guidance, 06/03/1996

Section 7(a) grants authority to and imposes requirements upon Federal agencies regarding endangered or threatened species of fish, wildlife, or plants (listed species) and habitat of such species that has been designated as critical (critical habitat).

Section 7(a) (1) directs Federal agencies, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary of the Interior or of Commerce, as appropriate, to utilize their authorities to further the purposes of the ESA by carrying out conservation programs for listed species. Such affirmative conservation programs must comply with applicable permit requirements (50 CFR Parts 17, 220, 222, and 227) for listed species and should be coordinated with the appropriate Secretary.

Section 7(a) (2) requires every Federal agency, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary, to insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out, in the United States or upon the high seas, is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or results in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

Section 7(a) (3) authorizes a prospective permit or license applicant to request the issuing Federal agency to enter into early consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) on a proposed action to determine whether such action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) (Public Law 85-624, as Amended)

Section 2 of the FWCA of 1958 states that fish and wildlife conservation shall receive equal consideration with other project purposes and will be coordinated with other features of water resources development projects. The specific langauge in Section 2, which is the trigger mechanism for consultations under the FWCA, is as follows:

"....whenever the waters of any stream or other body of water are proposed or authorized to be impounded, diverted, the channel deepened, or the stream or other body of water otherwise controlled or modified for any purpose whatever, including navigation and drainage, by any department or agency of the United States, or any public agency or private agency under Federal permit or license, such department or agency first shall consult with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service..."

FWCA specifically identifies the Service as a point of consultation but Reclamation may also consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service as appropriate for specific actions.

Clean Water Act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Public Law 92-500, as Amended)

The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. To achieve this objective the following actions may be taken:

(1) Discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated

(2) Where attainable, a goal of water quality, which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water be achieved; and

(3) Develop programs for the control of both point and non-point sources of pollution:

4a. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (33 USC 1342, Sec 402). Section 402 - Water discharge permitted into waters of the US; work with States for permits.

4b. Section 404 Permits for dredged or fill material into waters of the US. (33 USC 134). Permit required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who administers the program.

Federal Noxious Weed Act

The Act provides for the control and management of non-indigenous weeds that injure or have the potential to injure the interests of agriculture and commerce, wildlife resources, or the public health.

National Invasive Species Act

This Act prevents and controls unintentional introductions of aquatic invasive species into the waters of the United States. The current law is unique among laws relating to invasive species in that it applies broadly to the protection of native aquatic species and ecosystems as well as economic interests. Most invasive species law is charged solely with preventing damage to agriculture, forestry, or similar economic interests.

For more information about these regulations, contact the Resources Management Office at 702-293-8130.

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Updated: June 2014