ESA & NEPA Compliance
ESI provides comprehensive compliance services for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 from employees with 35 years of environmental experience. Our staff evolved with the ever-changing regulatory environment; we staff projects with experienced, current professionals. We address difficulties that present when impacts to ecologically unique or significant resources are juxtaposed with project objectives, requiring difficult choices to avoid, minimize and mitigate so that the project can move ahead in an environmentally responsible and defensible manner. We provide win-win scenarios for natural resources and project stakeholders.
Endangered Species Act
ESA’s objective is to prevent extinction of plants and animals and to recover imperiled populations. ESA’s goal is not always immediately aligned with project objectives.
ESI completes compliance surveys for federally endangered species and manages the ESA compliance process. We prepare Biological Assessments (BA) for compliance with Section 7, and Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) in support of Section 10 of the ESA. We have the tools, resources, and experience to elucidate interactions among species occurrence, biological needs, landscape resources, and proposed development to accurately assess project impacts. We work closely with Clients to implement realistic avoidance and minimization measures and fiscally prudent conservation measures that marry project goals and species needs, bringing projects to fruition.
Over the years, ESI has inherited many projects already underway, in many cases because when an endangered species was encountered, the project stalled. Addressing these projects requires extensive knowledge of the species and the regulatory framework. While many consultants claim to have this combination of capabilities, few do. Indeed, we are often the consultant of choice when an ESA issue has become unwieldy and/or litigious. To that end, ESI provides expert witness testimony.
National Environmental Policy Act
NEPA requires federal agencies to identify, avoid, and mitigate adverse environmental effects for projects they directly undertake, fund, or approve. Often, the applicant for permit approval is responsible for support and funding of NEPA compliance.
Implementing the philosophy and technical requirements of §101 and §102 of NEPA can be complicated. ESI provides NEPA process implementation and documentation in support of projects of various scopes and scales. We are often part of a team, integrating the multi-dimensional NEPA process with related federal and state laws to produce a unified decision document. We prepare Environmental Assessments (EA), Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Categorical Exclusions (CE), in accordance with Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidelines. ESI staff involvement in the NEPA process spans several federal agencies, requiring familiarity with each agency’s specific implementing regulations; we also assist private companies and state agencies that comply with NEPA because of a federal nexus.
We facilitate our client’s interests throughout the NEPA process – from project initiation to obtaining a final record of decision (ROD). Our staff participate in scoping, alternatives analyses, describing the affected environment, determining environmental consequences, and defining mitigation measures. We work on controversial projects, where public involvement is largely defined by public opposition.
Projects involving NEPA are often complex, with many interested parties, and tight budget and timeline constraints. Projects may require months or years to complete and we understand that because projects evolve continually from kick-off through completion, continuity of personnel is crucial to project execution.