Today, many dispersed data systems map environmental information and/or provide links to certain government documents. However, there is no comprehensive, map-based data system that allows access to NEPA documents and information.
NEPA was enacted in 1970, long before the use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology became common. Thus it is not surprising that the statute does not address geospatial data systems. However, a Geospatial NEPA system could help realize NEPA goals and objectives and overcome hurdles by harnessing the time, money, and effort expended to conduct individual environmental reviews to support products that may be used more widely.
An ideal Geospatial NEPA system would help users identify relevant activities, impacts, and data in a given area, which would:
• Support the goal of informing the public about environmental impacts decision-making;
• Help those conducting NEPA analyses identify other relevant documents and projects, increasing their efficiency through information-sharing; and
• Increase the efficacy of NEPA analyses by ensuring all relevant information and activities are taken into account, especially with regard to cumulative impacts assessments.