NEPA Navigator™

Since 2010, our 3-day National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) training course has successfully prepared students to participate in the NEPA process at a support, development, or leadership role.

Effectively Guide Your NEPA Process

Compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires a thorough understanding of the Act’s intent, the requirements of NEPA implementing regulations, and professionally accepted methods for effectively addressing the many challenging components of the regulation. Meeting the procedural requirements of NEPA and understanding how to create defensible documentation requires an informed perspective as well as the tools to avoid pitfalls and time sinks.

This 3-day course presents the details of the NEPA process and enables participants gain an understanding of how the NEPA process is carried out by various Federal agencies, as they adhere to agency-specific NEPA implementing regulations.

Learn To:

  • Determine appropriate NEPA document and process for proposed actions (e.g. Categorical Exclusion (CX), Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)), including common missteps and borderline situations
  • Properly characterize the Purpose & Need for a proposed action
  • Identify and analyze alternatives to the proposed action
  • Determine and analyze impacts to environmental resources (e.g. air quality, water and biological resources, environmental justice, etc.)
  • Interrelationship between NEPA and other federal laws (i.e. Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, etc.)
  • Determine the scope and extent of cumulative impacts
  • Develop a technically and legally defensible NEPA document

NEPA compliance is mandatory for actions authorized, funded, or carried out by a federal agency. Whether you are someone who works for a federal agency or someone who finds themselves in a federal nexus situation wherein NEPA compliance is necessary, this training will help guide you through the process. The NEPA Navigator course is designed to provide the fundamentals of NEPA the law as well as practical implementation of NEPA. We present and discuss the NEPA process from scoping to the final document (Record of Decision (ROD) for an EIS or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an EA). The course includes practical exercises that provide hands on opportunities to develop a Purpose & Need, Project Description for the Proposed Action, Environmental Setting and Environmental Consequences and Cumulative Impacts. This course will also show how other Federal laws are analyzed in a NEPA document.

Who should attend this course?

Aarcher Institute’s NEPA Navigator™ course is designed to help professionals working at various levels of the NEPA process, including those drafting or reviewing NEPA documents. This course is attended by Federal and state employees, environmental consultants, project proponents, and private sector managers with activities subject to NEPA.

What is the course format?

NEPA Navigator™ is presented as a series of topical modules, open discussion, and group exercises over a 3-day period, with frequent breaks throughout the day, and a 1-hour break for lunch.

The course is offered in pleasant and easily accessible locations, and training venues are selected to allow you to escape distractions and focus on the presented material in a professional setting. All locations offer wireless service and Internet access so you can stay connected. Discussions among instructors and participants is encouraged to explore various aspects of the NEPA process.

What does this course deliver?

NEPA Navigator™ provides participants with a foundation for supporting, leading, or overseeing the NEPA process under any agency implementing regulations.

You will return from this course with a course binder; useful references; and other tools to assist you in your NEPA work; instructor contact information for followup questions; and your notes from the presentations and discussions.

At completion of the course, you will receive an embossed certificate for your records. If you maintain professional credentials requiring continuing education credits, NEPA Navigator™  has been approved by all environmental, safety, legal, and engineering certifying bodies.

What’s covered in the course?

The Aarcher Institute’s NEPA Navigator™ course combines formal training modules, with hands-on and practical exercises, and open discussion of relevant compliance challenges to solidify the foundation you will need to effectively participate in the NEPA process.

Topics Covered Include:

  • NEPA – The Law and its Implementing Regulations
  • The Three Levels of NEPA Documentation: CXs, EAs, and EISs
  • Conducting Environmental Impact Analyses and Documenting Environmental Consequences
  • Tips and Techniques for a Successful NEPA Process
  • NEPA Review, Analysis and Documentation
  • Relationship to other environmental laws and regulations, including EMS
  • Working with NEPA project Stakeholders
  • Related Cultural, Historic, Biological, and Socioeconomic Issues and Impacts

Our Continuing Education Matrix provides a summary of current professional certification credits, maintenance points, and CEUs awarded for Institute courses.

Course Agendas are subject to change

Day One 8:15 – 4:15

  • NEPA Rules and Requirements
  • Categorical Exclusion
  • Environmental Assessments
  • Environmental Impact Statements (CX, EA, & EIS)
  • The Agency-Specific Categorical Exclusion Process    
  • What is the DOPAA? – The Art of NEPA
  • Finding the Purpose (and the Need)
  • What are the Five “Ws”?  – Defining the Proposed Action and Identifying Alternatives
  • Alternatives Development and Screening Criteria

Day Two 8:15 – 4:15

  • Questions to Ask Yourself When Identifying Alternatives
  • What is Scoping (and why is it so important)?
  • Developing a Great DOPAA and Screening Criteria
  • The Affected Environment – Using the Scoping Process to Prepare Concise, Analytical NEPA Documents
  • Developing the Affected Environment
  • Analysis of Environmental Consequences – The Science of NEPA

Day Three 8:15 – 3:00

  • Mitigation Measures v. Best Management Practices
  • So what about Cumulative Effects?
  • What are Decision Documents?
  • NEPA Tips and Techniques – Document Reviews, Working with Contractors, Schedules & Timing, and Integrating Decision-Making

Whitney Fiore has over 15 years experience professional consulting experience in the field of natural resources, CEQA/NEPA and regulatory compliance. Six of those years were spent working for environmental and land use attorneys specializing in CEQA/NEPA and regulatory compliance in both federal and state jurisdictions. Ms. Fiore has prepared 100 or more CEQA/NEPA documents that range from large (5,000 page) EISs to 50 page Environmental Assessments (EAs) or Mitigated Negative Declarations (MNDs).  Along with CEQA/NEPA compliance, Whitney has been managing projects that require U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 404 CWA, Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), numerous state wildlife agencies, Coastal Development Permits, state 401 Water Quality Certifications, as well as mitigation and restoration planning. For seven years Whitney co-taught a course at UC Berkeley Extension on CEQA/NEPA and regulatory compliance for projects in aquatic habitats. Whitney’s background has afforded her an ability to work on all aspects of projects for which NEPA compliance may be necessary and with inter-disciplinary teams that include engineers, hydrologists, historic preservationists/archeologists, biologists, geo-morphologists, hazardous material and risk assessment experts, aquatic toxicologists, air quality experts, among others.

Whitney’s clients have been both private entities and federal, state and local public agencies. For 5 years Whitney worked to support the Port of Los Angeles on their CEQA/NEPA documents and recently completed a joint CEQA/NEPA EIR/EIS for the 400-acre San Pedro Waterfront Redevelopment for which the NEPA Lead Agency was USACE. Whitney was the lead author of a NEPA Handbook for the Port of Los Angeles as most of their work requires Section 404 Individual Permits from USACE, thereby requiring joint NEPA/CEQA compliance.  Whitney also spent the last two years working onsite for the US Department of Energy (DOE) at their Headquarters in Washington DC and in the Golden Field Office in Colorado, conducting NEPA reviews for projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Whitney prepared hundreds of CXs and identified projects for which additional NEPA review was necessary (mainly preparation of an EA). She was document manager for numerous DOE EAs that because of ARRA funding, had to be completed in very short timeframes.

Whitney is originally from Seattle, Washington and earned her B.S in Natural Resource Management and Public Policy with a minor in Biology in 1994; and M.S. in Natural Resource Management from Central Washington University in 1999 respectively. Whitney now lives in Historic Downtown Annapolis with her husband Michael where they recently completed a gut renovation on a house built in 1880.