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How Is Environmental Policy Made?


US - Explaining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the goal of a series of educational training workshops being organised by Izetta Chambers, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Programme agent based in Dillingham.

Ms Chambers said the training workshops aim to help Alaskans better understand how NEPA works, particularly when it comes to how it affects the policy-making process of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC).

The next NEPA training workshop is scheduled in the Southwest Alaska village of Togiak, November 12–14, at the Blue Building. The workshop will be taught over three days: Friday from 6 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm. Participants are eligible to received one credit for the workshop through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus.

Workshops are being planned for Nome and Kotzebue as well, although the time and place for these have not yet been determined.

NEPA was enacted in 1970 to guide the formation of national environmental policy that requires consideration of environmental factors and impacts during the policy-making process. An important aspect of the act was to establish procedures that all federal agencies must follow to prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact statements.

Ms Chambers said Alaska Sea Grant received a $25,000 federal grant to conduct a series of training and outreach workshops to engage and inform coastal Alaskans on how the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) works.

The objectives of the project are to;

  • Introduce and provide overview of the pertinent laws and processes of NEPA and NPFMC;

  • Provide background that established the NEPA and NPFMC, and objectives of the processes and laws;

  • Give detailed information on how to provide meaningful and substantive testimony, and encourage active involvement by coastal residents;

  • Work with coastal residents to review and critique written and oral testimony to ensure that their voices are heard during public testimony opportunities.

The grant was awarded by the National Sea Grant Law Center as part of its mission to conduct legal research, education and extension projects to foster environmental stewardship, long-term economic development and responsible use of America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources.

Training workshops are being planned in Southwest Alaska communities, as well as villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Strait region. The workshops will focus on collaboration with existing programs, including the Rural Outreach Committee, recently implemented by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, as well as current course offerings planned through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus to teach students how to navigate the NEPA process.

Alaskans interested in participating in these training sessions are encouraged to contact Izetta Chambers at the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program office in Dillingham at (907) 842-8323,