The NEPA Process

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Environmental Reviews are triggered by a Federal Action:

  • “TCR’s proposal to build and operate a N700 Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed passenger rail system between Dallas and Houston established FRA’s Federal Action, because FRA must review and approve the safety of the system.
  • Current FRA regulations do not address equipment requirements for train speeds above 150 miles per hour.
  • TCR has petitioned FRA for a Rule of Particular Applicability addressing the safety issues presented by the system.”


The NEPA Process or “Umbrella” covers additional Statutes and requirements, such as:

  • Clean Air Act
  • Historic Preservation (Section 106)
  • Environmental Justice
  • Noise and Vibration
  • Section 4(f)

NEPA Planning Benefits:

  • Identifies potential challenges prior to selection of actual routes or station locations.
  • Properly completed NEPA reviews reduce or eliminates mitigation risk.
  • The NEPA process enhances involvement of cooperating agencies and increases coordination for multimodal projects


The NEPA process is dynamic and is slightly different because ach project has unique requirements, challenges, and goals.  FRA’s responsibility is to perform a thorough and efficient environmental review according to applicable laws, guidance and regulation for projects that trigger the NEPA process.