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NEPA and Climate Change

CEQ issued draft guidance on considering climate change (CC) in NEPA, including GHG analysis, in February 2010. Implications of the guidance to land-management agencies prompted CEQ to expand the draft guidance in 2011. While the date of the final guidance is not known, NASA proactively developed a tool to estimate GHG emissions for inclusion in EAs and EISs. This takes advantage of NASA’s internal GHG and CC expertise and enabled the Environmental Management Division (EMD) at NASA Headquarters to develop an agency tool for Center use. This avoids having NASA’s Centers independently develop tools and provides for agency consistency in calculating and presenting data.

Pending the scope of the action, CC may also be an appropriate topic to be addressed in an EA or EIS. CEQs intent in including CC is to encourage the federal community to show leadership and responsibility in addressing this global issue. NASA’s NEPA actions are not expected to have any measurable contribution to CC. In contrast, the Center NEPA Manager may find that the EA or EIS should report any effect CC has had on NASA’s proposed action, e.g., selecting a site for a new building farther from the shore or a site with a higher elevation. Over 40% of NASA’s assets are located along the shoreline and therefore the infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of the increase in sea level that is resulting from CC. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, have already had to take action to reinforce their shorelines to protect their launch facilities and infrastructure.

Summary of how NASA assesses GHG and CC:

NASA’s GHG Tool/Calculator for Center NEPA Managers (5MB):

Federal Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Accounting:

Addressing CC and GHG in NEPA Documents:

For more information contact the Environmental Management Division: