NEPA Expertise with Accessing Federal Funds

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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of proposed projects prior to making decisions. Federal or state funding may be available to move forward with public projects that raise environmental concerns – and a team of experts can help identify your options.  

NEPA requires agencies to evaluate the environmental and related effects of various proposed actions, including decisions on permit applications, adopting federal land-management activities, and constructing publicly owned facilities.

The federal government has a vested interest in funding specific projects, including upgrades to infrastructure, climate resilience, solar energy, and related developments. There are also federal and State of California funding opportunities to identify and clean up contaminated sites and brownfields, as well as enhancements to pedestrian facilities, roadways, and bridges.

NEPA applies to all major federal actions and requires environmental consideration before any funding authorization can be initiated, and before project implementation can be undertaken. This means all environmental assessments, such as an or Environmental Assessment (EA), as well as testing and other investigative measures, must be completed before any funding can be released. This also includes requirements for public review and comment regarding the project’s development.

Identifying Funding Sources

Sustainability consulting firms have expert teams in place to identify potential funding sources and assist public agency clients in securing these funds. These firms also can assist in navigating the entirety of NEPA compliance, improving efficiency and effectiveness throughout the regulatory process.

Cities are frequently cash constrained and may face challenges when considering how to finance major public improvement projects. Firms like FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) have relationships with funding entities and deep knowledge of where grant funding opportunities exist – as well as how to write a successful grant application that checks all the boxes.

Funding varies depending on the project and its goals, but below is a sampling of federal funding avenues your sustainability team may explore.

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Funds: Allocated for transportation projects including highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. As these projects can have a significant environmental impact, NEPA compliance is often required.
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Grants: The FTA frequently offers grants for public transportation projects, including bus and rail systems. These grants typically require NEPA compliance for funding.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants: The EPA offers grants for various environmentally focused projects, often including pollution prevention, water quality improvement, and brownfield redevelopment. In most cases, NEPA compliance is required for EPA grants.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Grants: FEMA grants can assist with disaster response, recovery, and mitigation projects. It is usually necessary to adhere to NEPA requirements for FEMA funding.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Grants: HUD offers grant funding for community development, affordable housing, and urban revitalization projects. NEPA compliance is usually required.
  • Department of Energy (DOE) Grants: The DOE provides grant funding for energy research and development, as well as deployment projects. NEPA compliance is usually a funding requirement if the projects involve energy infrastructure or related environmental impacts.
  • National Park Service (NPS) Grants: NPS grant funding can assist with conservation, historic preservation, and outdoor recreation projects. Particularly regarding projects within or adjacent to national parks, NEPA compliance is a requirement for funding.

With each of these examples, the availability of funds and the specific NEPA compliance requirements will vary by project and agency, as well as the expertise of the grant writing team working to secure your state or federal funding.

Regulatory Requirements to Recieve Funds 

It is important to note that once funding sources have been identified, the NEPA compliance process must be completed before any allocated funds can be officially released. Not only can FCS identify funding opportunities, but we can also assist with regulatory permitting and other NEPA requirements to ensure funds are distributed expediently. These partnerships can be particularly helpful for cities with a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) but without the funding to implement the identified projects.

FCS has more than 120 on-call contracts with California cities, demonstrating the confidence that our clients have in FCS’s leadership to provide innovative solutions for environmental, sustainability, and compliance challenges.

NEPA compliance can be complicated enough without the added hurdle of seeking project funding. Fortunately, FCS has a deep bench of experts who thoroughly understand the intricacies of the process, from assessments to regulatory compliance, and, ultimately, securing the funding that advances public projects in an environmentally responsible manner.

FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) comprises over 100 individuals offering due diligence, technical analysis, planning, environmental compliance, permitting, and mitigation/monitoring services for public and private projects. FCS has more than 30 years of experience navigating the complexities of NEPA and securing project approvals. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your specific requirements. 

About the author

Mary Bean

Mary Bean thumbnail

Mary is FCS's Environmental Services Senior Vice President and has more than 24 years of experience managing the preparation of CEQA and NEPA documents in both the public and private sectors.
She is knowledgeable about a broad range of environmental topics, backed by her experience in the field, research, technical writing, and planning. She specializes in leading interdisciplinary teams in the preparation of technical studies that support environmental clearance at the local, State, and national levels. Her depth of experience allows her to be particularly effective in strategizing with clients about the most efficient approach to environmental review. In her 7 years with FCS, Mary has successfully led FCS’s services on more than 450 projects.

How we can help

In an ever-changing regulatory and sustainability environment, FCS understands the challenges you face. Our highly qualified environmental specialists, energy management consultants, and technical experts deliver integrated, industry-specific solutions that move your project forward—so that you can focus on what matters.