The Environmental Impact Statement--It Seldom Causes Long Project Delays but Could Be More Useful If Prepared Earlier
CED-77-99: Published: Aug 9, 1977. Publicly Released: Aug 9, 1977.
- Full Report:
Contrary to the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act, major decisions were being made to start designing or constructing public works projects before environmental impact statements were completed. The act requires federal agencies to disclose and consider environmental impacts together with economic and technical factors before taking action.
Preparing impact statements is time-consuming, averaging 31 months in 29 cases reviewed. If the statements are prepared while projects are being planned, the environmental, economic, and technical factors can be considered together.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
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Matter: The Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality should: eliminate controversy as a criterion in its federal agency guidelines for determining whether environmental impact statements are needed on federal actions; review federal agency regulations to be sure they require that environmental impact statements be prepared concurrent with project planning; and advise Congress and the President whenever agencies do not have such requirements. The Secretary of the Army should monitor the Corps of Engineers' practices, and the Administrators of the General Services Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency should revise their procedures so that environmental impact statements are prepared concurrently with project planning and completed in time to accompany proposals through the agency review processes for approval. The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of the Corps of Engineers to see that impact statements on the Corps' projects planned prior to the act and on major additions to existing Corp's projects be completed as early as possible, and whenever possible before reaching any further major decisions.