Natural Resources and Environment:
Improvement of the National Environmental Policy Act's Implementation
Published: Jun 6, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1977.
Some federal agencies are not completing Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) in time to accompany project proposals through existing agency review processes for approval, as intended by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The completion of EIS late in project development can have serious consequences: (1) the impeding of the surfacing of environmental impacts and alternatives to proposed federal actions for consideration along with economic and technical factors when proposals are being planned; and (2) the risk of project delays associated with stopping projects to prepare late EIS and further delays to replan projects or portions of projects should the late EIS identify better alternative plans. A federal agency could revise its review process to allow preparation of EIS before major decisions are made on its proposals. Both the draft and the final EIS would discuss alternative sites before a site was selected. EIS would give equal attention to all reasonable, alternative sites, without favoring a particular one. External sources could comment on the environmental impacts of the alternatives before any particular one was selected. The Council on Environmental Quality could require federal agencies to complete, when feasible, EIS's during the planning stages of project development.