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National Environmental Policy Act Essay, Research Paper

Environmental Rules & Regulations

January 28, 2001


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Our Congress created the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 in order to establish an environmental foundation for mankind. This policy endorses harmony between humans and the vast ecosystems surrounding them. To obtain this goal and provide our future with resources as well, NEPA is separated into two titles. The first title declares the policy in detail while the second title focuses on the Council on Environmental Quality. The CEQ oversees the effectiveness of current methods, the reactions of the environment to those methods, and implements revisions as necessary.

In Title I of NEPA, our government recognizes the immutable link between mankind’s dealings and the impacts on the environment. People have an individual responsibility to the world around them. The Constitution assures us “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” However, “life” is undefined. We, as human beings, have the superiority to nurture and preserve all forms of life. Transitions in population growth (or decline), urban spread, industry expansions and technological advances are critical in determining and modifying the ever-changing needs of the environment. Extensive research and planning with State and local government allows NEPA to anticipate, possibly even predict, an environmental disaster before it occurs. These measures are to insure the most beneficial use of our natural resources, to preserve our Nation’s history as well as encourage individuality, to search for improvements in recycling our resources and the discovery of new ones. These goals are sought after in a systematic manner to include the most recent available data that could promote or reject proposals for changes to the environment. Upgrading environmental policies follows a strict path. It has to. We hold the delicate balance of Nature in our hands. A proposal to alter the current environmental status must state the anticipated impact of the change, any possible negative effects and proposed alternatives, short- and long-term uses of the change and any irrevocable use of resources. Additionally, there must be consultations with any Federal agency that has jurisdictional law or “special expertise” with that particular environmental issue. The President, the CEQ, and the general public subsequently review the proposal. If a proposal has unresolved conflicts in any area it is not simply dismissed. Further study and research is done to try to rectify those areas. Further, Title I looks to assist in worldwide endeavors to addressing environmental issues and concerns that are within the boundaries of US foreign policy. It also makes it possible for advice and information on the maintenance, enhancement, and restoration of the environment to be “available to States, counties, municipalities, institutions, and individuals.” Lastly, this first section of NEPA insists on reviewing statutory limitations, administrative regulations, and current methods to continually conform to the goals of environmental well-being. It stands as a frequent supplement to existing environmental laws.

Title II of NEPA focuses on the Council on Environmental Quality. Their objective is to make sure that agencies dealing with the environment are compliant to NEPA and to keep the President aware of current and potential environmental issues. The chairman of the CEQ, appointed by the President, must furnish an annual Environmental Quality Report that provides the current conditions of terrestrial areas such as forests, wetlands, urban and rural surroundings, water life including marine, fresh water, and estuary habitats, and the quality of the air we breathe. Additionally, this report must include patterns depicting the quality, management, and utilization of resources and the reactions of the environment to them. Each policy or law we (as a Nation) implement on the environment effects us on social, economic, and worldwide levels. The CEQ Report analyzes policies and regulations to further modernize our use of the environment. The sooner we are able to discover the cracks in our policies the more efficient we can become.

In order for the CEQ to meet their obligations, they must consult with the movers and shakers of the science, agricultural and, industry and labor, and conservation fields as well as local and State governments. The Council has affiliates with public, private, and individual organizations to accomplish two tasks: 1) to have the most complete, current, concise information on the status of the environment and 2) to avoid duplicating programs or policies already in existence.

The remaining sections of Title II explain the distribution of salary and funds for improvement. The Council may employ up to ten specialists or experts to acquire the most advanced environmental statistics or data. Within these monies is an Office of Environmental Quality management Fund. This fund’s purpose is to study and research potential agreements “jointly sponsored by the Office and one or more other Federal agencies.” The Chairman of the CEQ oversees the distribution of the fund as well as sets the regulations to operate it.

Overall, the implementation of NEPA has made it possible for everyone to be informed and participate in the discoveries and changes of the environment we’ve been blessed with. This has led to multinational concerns and efforts for improving our environment. In September 1992, Canada, Mexico, and the US instituted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). It promotes joint environmental development and education throughout North America. Alliances such as this restore some faith that our environment matters to us. Not only what it provides us with but also the bounties it provides for animals and birds, trees and open land, fish and plants. They have no tangible voice with two exceptions – the voice of a mankind that cares and the voice of extinction.

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