Environmental Impact Statement
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires that federal agencies prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) indicating, for any legislation or action that they propose, that the agencies have investigated and considered the possible environmental consequences.
NEPA was a response to widespread concerns that the environment was being endangered by projects in which federal agencies were involved in various ways. Its passage established a precedent subsequently followed by requirements in more than forty other countries that similar environmental impact assessments be conducted. The purpose of the act was to "encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of
In passing NEPA, Congress declared "that each person should enjoy a healthful environment" as an aim of compliance with the NEPA. The act did not mandate any particular decision, only that the facts concerning environmental consequences of proposed actions be determined and taken into account. It did require "utiliz[ing] a systematic, interdisciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts in planning and decision making which may have an impact on man's environment." The impact on human health must be included along with consideration of physical, biological, social, and economic factors.
The EIS process in the United States has significantly influenced decision making by allowing:(1) public participation in commenting on draft EISs, which permits environmental advocates, industrial groups, and others to make their voices heard, and (2) litigation originating from any of the affected parties challenging the decisions made. Thus, besides delineating the facts about potential environmental impacts and considering them in making decisions, the federal agencies must take into account public reaction and legal issues.
As many countries have joined the effort, an internationally related move toward environmental protection has been to prepare covenants among different nations on such issues. One example is the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Even though the Kyoto Protocol is in serious jeopardy, such international moves could eventually carry substantial force for environmental protection.
Caldwell, L. K. (1982). Science and the National Environmental Policy Act. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.
Vig, N. J., and Kraft, M. E. (1994). Environmental Policy in the 1990s. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.