Course

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Writing the Perfect EA/FONSI, or EIS


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Course Title: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Writing the Perfect EA/FONSI, or EIS
Course ID: POL-302
Status: OPEN
Date(s): June 13, 2017: 8:30am - 4:30pm
June 14, 2017: 8:30am - 4:30pm
Location: Wingate Hotel
5252 Airway Blvd
Missoula, MT
Instructor: Owen Schmidt
Tuition: $645 / $595*
$595 / $545* (Before May 13, 2017)

 

Description:

*Updated description 3/2017

This training course begins with the most basic and fundamental bedrock principles of NEPA practice but ends with a highly useful set of models and suggestions for writing what is called the “perfect” NEPA document — whether an Environmental Assessment (EA) / Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Perfect is defined as having all the required content while successfully leaving out unnecessary content.

All materials are based on statutes, regulations, and NEPA case law.  This course includes a substantial handout with graphic models, updated case lists that support the models, and sample documents. Each attendee may keep their handout to serve as a reference in the workplace. 

Major themes include: how to make the findings required by law; how to make the finding of no significant impact in particular; timing the NEPA process to the decision making process; eight good legal reasons not to prepare an EIS; scoping a reasonable range of alternatives; writing the “perfect” cumulative effects analysis including greenhouse gas emissions for climate change analysis; and preparing the administrative record.

DID YOU KNOW

The NEPA-implementing regulations have not been significantly amended since they were first published in 1978.  But NEPA case law is constantly evolving as new issues are presented to the courts and new judicial opinions are published.  This course is always updated according to the latest judicial opinions.

DID YOU KNOW

A perfect EA or EIS will be legally adequate, but a legally adequate EA or EIS is not perfect if it includes unnecessary content. Writing the perfect EA/FONSI or EIS covers all the rules for inclusion as well as for exclusion.

DID YOU KNOW

The categorical exclusion is not an exclusion from NEPA. Instead, it is one of three processes for compliance with NEPA, along with the EA/FONSI and the EIS. Writing the perfect EA/FONSI or EIS covers all the NEPA procedures including, for example, scoping, supplementation and tiering.

** For an advanced, seminar-style discussion of NEPA issues, attend our one-day Advanced NEPA Workshop, immediately following this course. There is a $50 discount when purchasing the 2 courses together. **

"But for Mr. Schmidt, I would know next to nothing about NEPA. Now I understand some of the larger issues and can think through basic problems. I have learned a lot. Instructor of great impact." Anonymous, October 2015

"This class is full of useful hints, tips and shortcuts to NEPA documentation"   Anonymous, April 2015

"Tons of content! As a new practitioner, this course provided tremendous context and foundational information that I would never have received if I hadn't taken the course. I would even take it again! Owen Schmidt is wonderful! Completely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and accessible (not just his personality but his delivery of course content)."  R. Gilliam, March 2013

“[Owen Schmidt] created a very relaxed atmosphere which promoted class participation.  As a beginner to NEPA I was able to gain a lot of insight.” D. Lieb, May 2013

"[Liked] the major points on how to write purpose and need, determining alternatives, and cumulative impacts.  Also on determining significance and disclosing methods." M. Worah, July 2013

*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. 

Intended Audience:

This workshop is designed to serve both as a comprehensive introduction for those new to NEPA and a refresher for more experienced professionals. The course is beneficial for federal agency staff and decision makers, attorneys, consultants, as well as members of environmental organizations and interested citizens who are concerned about the environmental effects of federal actions. Those who have taken this course in years past will benefit from updated materials based on the newest judicial opinions. Even those who have worked with NEPA their entire careers will stand to learn more about the secrets to successful NEPA compliance.

Continuing Education Units: 1.30 CEUs

More Information

Course Topics

DAY 1

Writing the Perfect FONSI

Ultimate conclusions
Basic conclusions
Evidence
Reasons

Timing the NEPA process to the decision making process
Idea
Proposal
Recommendation or report
Decision action
Monitoring, supplements

Eight good reasons not to prepare an EIS

Writing the perfect EA or EIS
Eight plain-language questions any EA or EIS should readily answer

Writing the perfect ROD
Double winnowing
SCOPE: Alternatives
Proposal for action
Need underlying the proposal
Action alternatives:
- Alternative places to go
- Alternative ways to get there
No-action alternative
Mitigation not included in the proposal
Decision factors

Writing the perfect cumulative impacts analysis
Actions:
-Reasons to lump
-Reasons to split

Impacts:
-Direct, indirect, and cumulative
-Increments to past, other present, and reasonably
foreseeable future actions

Writing the perfect cumulative impacts analysis, continued

Administrative Record

DAY 2

SCOPE: Alternatives
Proposal for action
Need underlying the proposal
Action alternatives:
- Alternative places to go
- Alternative ways to get there
No-action alternative
Mitigation not included in the proposal
Decision factors

Writing the perfect cumulative impacts analysis
Actions:
-Reasons to lump
-Reasons to split

Impacts:
-Direct, indirect, and cumulative
-Increments to past, other present, and reasonably
foreseeable future actions

Writing the perfect cumulative impacts analysis, continued

Administrative Record

About the Instructor

Owen Schmidt

Owen Schmidt

Owen L. Schmidt, BA, MA, JD, has more than 32 years of service with the Federal Government. He has served as Senior Counsel with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel in Portland, Oregon, where he advised the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other USDA agencies in Washington and Oregon. He was also a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Oregon. Before joining USDA in 1991, he was an attorney for the Bonneville Power Administration, where he joined the legal staff after several years as an Environmental Specialist. Mr. Schmidt received his J.D. from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College (1977), and a B.A. (1969) and M.A. (1973) in biology from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota. Mr. Schmidt is a frequent author and lecturer on the National Environmental Policy Act. He served as a Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Book Publication Committee for the Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and as a Vice President for the Ninth Circuit, The Federal Bar Association. He was the Editor of Oregon Birds, a quarterly journal of Oregon Field Ornithologists, for 14 years (1985-99), and is a long-time member of the Oregon Bird Records Committee.

What to Bring

Pen or pencil, coffee mug, and a water bottle (to reduce waste). 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

Cancellations*

  • 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

Directions

  • From:

  • To:
  •   5252 Airway Blvd Missoula, MT 59808

Accommodations

 



*Reduced tuition available to employees of Native American tribes, nonprofits, and government agencies; students; and NAEP members.

If you have any trouble registering please call (425) 270-3274 ext 103
Please wait to receive a course confirmation email, roughly one month prior to the class, before making any travel arrangements. Please review what to bring!

 

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