Tip 6: Hone Your Focus

Key Points

  • A well-defined Purpose and Need (P&N) Statement is key to establishing the scope of analysis, range of reasonable alternatives, and rationale for selection of an alternative.
  • Focus on significant issue-driven analysis.

Tips for Developing the P&N Statement

  • The Purpose should be one to two sentences to explain what is being addressed.
  • The Need should be one to two paragraphs to explain why the action is being considered.
  • Improving the focus of the P&N statement will improve the focus of the alternatives.
  • Develop the P&N statement very early in the NEPA process and include the P&N in the scoping notice or in the overview presented at the scoping meetings.
  • Reexamine and update the P&N statement during the NEPA scoping process, if needed.

Tips for Developing Reasonable Alternatives

  • Determine which alternatives are reasonable, prudent, and practicable (see checklist below).
  • To be “reasonable,” proposed alternatives must respond to the P&N.
  • The range of alternatives may need to reflect the jurisdiction and authorities of cooperating agencies.
  • An action alternative may be eliminated from detailed analysis if:
    • It is ineffective in responding to part of the P&N.
    • It is technically or economically infeasible. (Consider whether implementation of the alternative is likely, given past and current practice and technology; this does not require cost-benefit analysis or speculation about an applicant’s costs and profits).
    • It is inconsistent with the basic policy objectives for the management of the area.
    • Its implementation is remote or speculative.
    • It is substantially similar in design to an alternative that is analyzed.
    • It would have substantially similar effects to an alternative that is analyzed.
    • It duplicates other less environmentally damaging or less expensive alternatives.
    • It is expected to have too great an environmental impact.

Tips for Focusing the Analysis

  • Analyze only issues and impacts relevant to making informed decisions.
  • Avoid analyzing irrelevant and insignificant topics. Relegate the analysis of less relevant topics and documentation to an appendix or source document.
  • Focus the level of detail in the analysis to reflect the importance of the issue:
    • Restrict text to pertinent facts only.
    • Exclude material not directly applicable to potential significant impacts.
    • Include only information and data needed to support the conclusions reached.


Was this page helpful?