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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about - the law with a funny name: NEPA (KNEE-pah), the National Environmental Policy Act, under which Environmental Impact Statements are required for federal projects.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood

(Music up and under: "Hail to the Chief")

CURWOOD: Thirty years ago this month, President Richard Nixon signed a key law with a funny-sounding name: NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act. It was the first of several landmark statutes Mr. Nixon supported during the 70s, largely in response to pressure from a growing environmental movement. NEPA requires the federal government to create conditions where people can, quote, "exist in productive harmony" with nature. To achieve that goal, agencies for the first time were required to prepare environmental impact statements for federal projects. NEPA has been used by activists to lessen the footprints of massive undertakings, including the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline and the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Critics say the law adds delays and unnecessary costs. But not everyone thinks NEPA goes far enough. The act only requires authorities to study and consider environmental impacts, and make the information public. It does not require them to select the most environmentally-sound option. Still, NEPA has been hailed as a model of environmental stewardship, and has been copied by 25 states and more than 80 nations. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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