Congressional Guidance Needed on the Environmental Protection Agency's Responsibilities for Preparing Environmental Impact Statements

CED-78-104: Published: Sep 13, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1978.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that the environmental impact statement (EIS) requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act generally does not apply to regulatory actions which EPA proposes to protect or enhance the quality of the environment. EPA position is based on the act's legislative history, a series of court cases, and its concern that a requirement to subject more actions to the EIS requirement would disrupt its operations.

Although EPA was established more than 7 years ago, the question of whether the EIS requirement applies to many of its actions has not been resolved. The statutory exemptions provided from the EIS requirement for actions taken by EPA under the Federal Water Pollution Control and the Clean Air Acts are inequitable to other federal agencies. The EPA voluntary program for EIS preparation is inadequate because some actions that could benefit from the process are omitted. Application of the EIS requirement to more actions should not disrupt EPA operations if provisions for preparation of EISs were incorporated into its normal procedures.

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