Environmental Review Process FAQs


What is Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)? 

In accordance with MEPA, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)’s MEPA Office conducts reviews of development projects and other activities that require one or more state agency action. To ensure consistency between Agency Actions, and to facilitate coordination of all environmental and development review and permitting processes of the Commonwealth, MEPA analyzes how the Project complies with applicable regulatory standards and requirements. It also provides meaningful opportunities for public review of potential environmental impacts of certain projects. It requires that the Proponent and state agencies study the short- and long-term environmental and public health impacts of projects requiring state permitting, financial assistance or land disposition, and to use all feasible measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate damage to the environment or, to the extent damage to the environment cannot be avoided, to minimize and mitigate damage to the environment to the maximum extent practicable. 

Examples of analysis required: wetland delineations, air quality assessment, wildlife habitat evaluations, impacts to environmental justice populations 

What is National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)? 

NEPA review requires federal agencies to assess the environmental and social effects of all federal, federally assisted, and federally licensed actions, not just of those defined as “major” or as having “significant” impacts. Projects are reviewed in accordance with the environmental protection policies, regulations, and laws of the Federal Government.  

Examples of analysis required: noise assessment, stormwater report 

What is the Cape Cod Commission Act? 

Under the Cape Cod Commission Act, the Commission has the authority and obligation to review and decide upon certain projects, because of their size or other characteristics, likely to pose development issues and affect more than one town. The Commission’s regional review and decision-making is in addition to those by federal, state, or local agencies. 

Through Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review, the Commission determines the comparative benefits and detriments of a project and its consistency with the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan (RPP) and local comprehensive plans and goals The 2018 RPP is the fifth RPP prepared by the Cape Cod Commission outlining 14 goals and objectives to guide and plan for the future of the region in a manner consistent with the vision and growth policy. The RPP directly reflects the purposes and goals set out in the Act. Under the Act, the Commission is responsible for balancing the protection of the region’s various cultural, natural, and other resources, while promoting sustainable local and regional economies and economic growth. 

Examples of analysis required: transportation study, assessment of open space impacts