Alternative Approaches to Complying with NEPA: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

by Ralph Drtina



On January 1, 1970, the enactment of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by the U.S. Congress specified that major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of human environment will first require a systematic, interdisciplinary analysis of anticipated potential effects. It means that no longer were the developers legally capable of deciding by themselves whether proposed large-scale venture should be undertaken. The assessment of expected impacts on the environment is undertaken by a lead federal agency, which is primarily responsible for approval of a proposed project. The formal document summarizing anticipated effects is called the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). While many have praised EIS, dealing with NEPA requirements has been particularly burdensome for corporate officials, not accustomed to the process of intergovernmental project review. NEPA has at the same time opened the door for political maneuvering by interest groups. This article describes an alternative procedural mechanism for expediting project approval through the intergovernmental network.

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