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Overview

This policy lab investigated options for the reform and modernization of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) -- the granddaddy of our environmental laws. NEPA is a disclosure statute which requires that before federal officials can issue a permit, commit federal funds, or otherwise take an action that may have a significant impact on the environment, decision makers must have the opportunity to review an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyzes the potential environmental consequences of the proposed action and its alternatives. Many critics from both the right and left are dissatisfied with the way that NEPA and its state analogues are being implemented, prompting some legislators to advocate statutory overrides and agency officials to expand the use of categorical exemptions. Meanwhile, NEPA proponents are interested in making the environmental review process more user-friendly and efficient, while preserving its core disclosure requirements. In this Practicum, students reviewed, analyzed, and developed positions on potential NEPA reform options. Students worked closely with NEPA experts at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and produced work product that CEQ can use as it responds to Congressional and outside pressure to reform the NEPA process.

Academic Year (enter only for practicums) 

2013-2014