Environment, National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA, Congress, Amendment, Highways


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), passed by Congress in 1969, has been called "the broadest and perhaps most important of the recent statutes [which attempt] . . . to control . . . the destructive engine of material progress." Despite such plaudits, NEPA has been the target of much critical legal commentary and the source of much litigation in the federal courts. Considerable controversy has centered on what is considered the core of NEPA: the required filing of an environmental impact statement (EIS) by agencies undertaking "major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment . . . ." NEPA's failure to specify the detail necessary for a satisfactory EIS and the party responsible for preparing it has led to considerable litigation, most of which has arisen from the construction of federally aided highways. In order to resolve this controversy, Congress amended NEPA in 1975 to legalize the delegation and also to provide certain procedural safeguards against possible adverse effects. Specifically, the amendment requires that the appropriate federal official furnish guidance and participation in the preparation of the statement, that he evaluate the statement prior to its approval and adoption, and that notification and solicitation be made to any other state or federal land management entity which may be affected by the action in question. This Note will analyze the problems that these amendments address and evaluate its probable effectiveness.

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