Environment, threshold determination, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, NEPA


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed by Congress in 1969 declaring a policy which will promote efforts to protect the environment, to stimulate the health and welfare of man, and to enrich the understanding of the natural resources important to the nation. Under NEPA, all federal agencies must develop decision making procedures that include an evaluation of factors the agency will consider in deciding whether a proposed agency action will significantly affect the "human environment."' Federal agencies, unable to discern the meaning of "human environment," have had difficulty in deciding what factors to consider in making the threshold determination that an impact statement is required.” The fourth circuit has held that all effects-environmental, social and economic-had to be considered in the impact statement but the decisions of the various courts fail to provide any clear-cut guidelines on whether non-physical factors should be considered. The note concludes by stating Perhaps it is time for Congress to re-examine NEPA and define the terms of the Act so that it can be made workable.



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