During the environmental phase, alternatives are developed and screened, the most viable alternatives are advanced into environmental review, and the impacts and benefits of those alternatives are documented in an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement.
One of the first steps in the environmental process is the development of a Statement of Purpose and Need which clearly defines both the problem to be solved as well as the goal and objectives of the project. The Statement of Purpose and Need lays the groundwork for both the development of alternatives and for their comparative evaluation. Alternatives will initially be screened for their ability to meet the criteria set forth by the Purpose and Need, as well as their constructability and cost-effectiveness. The environmental process also begins with Project Scoping to determine which issues of concern need to be addressed by the project.
Both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) require the preparation of environmental documents for projects receiving federal or state funding, respectively. The goals of environmental documentation are to promote informed decision-making by ensuring that a) a range of reasonable alternatives are considered; and b) that potential impacts created by the alternatives will be avoided, minimized or mitigated. The environmental documentation phase will end with the selection of the preferred alternative for implementation, at which time the project can move forward toward permitting, final design and construction. It is critical to the successful completion of the environmental process that stakeholder input be sought and actively considered from the earliest stages of the project.
During, the earliest part of the environmental phase, a Statement of Purpose and Need will be drafted that will serve as the underpinning of subsequent environmental documentation and evaluation of alternatives.