Environmental Review Process

What is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)?

The NEPA Act of 1969 established a National Policy for protecting the environment and requires evaluation of alternative actions with the goal of ensuring informed decision-making.

The environmental review process can conclude with an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD).

Purpose and Need

The purpose of the project is to fulfill the mandate of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Act, P.L. 108-184 (2003). The Act states: “[Such a museum], would be dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and exhibition of the African American historical and cultural materials reflecting the breadth and depth of the experience of individuals of African descent living in the United States.”

The project is needed to:

  • Provide a National Meeting Place for all Americans to learn about the history and culture of African Americans
  • Establish an Institution that can respond to the interests and needs of diverse racial constituencies
  • Build a National Venue that can serve as an educational healing space to further racial reconciliation

Environmental Impact Statement


The environmental review process is jointly led by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Capital Planning Commission.

The National Park Service is a cooperating agency.