On Jan. 1, 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act was signed into law, setting forth environmental protection as a U.S. policy. NEPA established the framework to ensure that environmental impacts received appropriate consideration prior to any action, including funding, within the federal government. A few of the impacts considered include air quality, human health and safety, waste management, cultural resources, ground water and socioeconomics.
As a Department of Energy facility, Fermilab must comply with NEPA. This means that as soon as planning begins for any new or changing activity, an environmental evaluation must be completed. This can be done by completing an Environmental Review Form. An ERF is a questionnaire that allows subject matter experts to review the potential environmental impacts associated with that new or changing activity. Most activities receive approval to move forward within a few days; however, some may require further analysis.
What kinds of actions need a completed ERF? An ERF should be filled out for any activity that has the potential to have an impact on the human environment and has not been previously reviewed. This can be an action as small as replacing a valve to as large as building PIP-II. Administrative actions typically do not need an ERF. As a lab we want to ensure that we are not only in compliance with NEPA but that we are also doing our due diligence to protect the environment and human health.
If you have questions as to whether or not an activity should have an ERF filled out, please reach out to Teri Dykhuis or me. For more information on NEPA or completing and ERF, please visit the NEPA webpage.
Eric T. Korzeniowski is an environmental specialist in the lab’s Environmental Protection Department.