The Council on Environmental Quality:

A Tool in Shaping National Policy

CED-81-66: Published: Mar 19, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1981.

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Since its inception, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has been influential in shaping the nation's approach to protecting and preserving the environment. CEQ serves as an environmental adviser to the President and to Congress and has broached such issues as solar energy, land use, toxic substances, and endangered species. It has been instrumental in effecting the passage of major environmental legislation. An in-depth look at its responsibilities and how they have been carried out was presented. Questions concerning whether another agency could effectively fill the role of CEQ and whether there is a continued need for the role were addressed.

CEQ is organized by environmental issue areas to provide broad but flexible coverage of major environmental concerns and problems. Its workload consists of projects required by law, special projects requested by the White House, and self-initiated projects. CEQ oversees and coordinates federal environmental efforts by: (1) advising the President and Congress on major environmental issues and problems; (2) coordinating the environmental efforts of federal agencies' programs; (3) acting as a clearinghouse for environmental information; and (4) formulating and issuing regulations for federal agencies to follow in reporting the environmental impacts of programs. GAO agreed that CEQ has been successful in carrying out its responsibilities. GAO also perceived a continuing need for the delicate role of CEQ in balancing environmental concerns with the many federal actions dealing with other national concerns such as energy development and economic growth.

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