National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed into law on January 1, 1970, is a vital environmental statute that requires all federal government agencies and departments to examine the potential environmental impacts of their proposals before they are implemented. NEPA requirements apply to all federal activities, including those involving federal funding or permitting/licensing of private actions. For this reason, federal agencies - as well as private entities seeking federal funding or approvals - have a significant role to play in NEPA compliance, as do state and local governments, Indian tribes, business and environmental groups, and members of the public.


Lucinda Low Swartz, Esq., is a nationally known NEPA specialist providing extensive NEPA compliance services to federal agencies and private entities. She is a regular speaker on NEPA issues at environmental conferences and training seminars and is the co-author of The NEPA Reference Guide and Endangered Species: Legal Requirements and Policy Guidance. Ms. Swartz is also the former Deputy General Counsel of the Council on Environmental Quality, the office within the Executive Office of the President that oversees federal agency compliance with NEPA. With over 30 years of experience in environmental law and regulation in government and consulting, she has been operating her small, woman-owned business since May 2008. She is located in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

Statement of Qualifications

My NEPA Compliance Philosophy

"NEPA and its implementing regulations are simple, and offer major environmental and other benefits when followed the way they were intended. The NEPA process - the development of environmental analysis and documentation - can and should be quick and informative for agency decisionmakers and the public. Where agencies falter is in using the NEPA process to justify decisions that have already been made, failing to adequately develop the scope (actions, alternatives, and impacts) of NEPA documents, and ignoring opposing viewpoints. I stress advance planning, public involvement, focus on relevant issues, and preparation of readable documents to expedite the NEPA process while ensuring that the resulting NEPA document fully addresses the potential environmental impacts of a proposed agency action and fully meets the letter and the spirit of the law."