An Environmental Assessment (EA) is the evaluation process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that requires the FAA and most other federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of an action prior to making decisions.
An EA is a comprehensive analysis of the social, economic and environmental impacts of a particular project. The EA process also involves extensive public outreach and public involvement. A Citizen’s Guide to the NEPA provides more information about the process and how to participate.
In the end, a determination is made as to the significance of the project’s environmental impacts. If potential impacts identified in the EA are not considered significant, the proposed project may proceed. If potential impacts are considered significant, an Environmental Impact Statement is required. An EA typically takes between 12 to 18 months to complete.