United States Environmental Law

One environmental law that has had significant impact on the United States is the National Environmental Policy Act. In 1970 the law was passed together with other pertinent laws namely the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Environmental Education Act, and Environment Quality Improvement Act (Cornell University Law School, 2008). The main thrust of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was to create an encompassing national policy in the United States that would promote environmental enhancement (National Environmental Policy Act. gov, 2008).

Moreover, the other purposes of the NEPA are to encourage a lively, enjoyable and productive harmony and relationship between the environment and man and to initiate efforts and moves that would prevent, minimize or totally eliminate the damages and threats to the environment and in effect, stimulate the man’s welfare and health (National Environmental Policy Act. gov, 2008). In addition, the law also seeks to enrich and enhance the understanding of the natural resources and ecological systems that are important to the United States and also to create a Council on Environmental Quality (National Environmental Policy Act.

gov, 2008). However, possibly the most notable effect of the law was that it required the US federal government to first submit a document called an environmental impact statement (EIS), before it takes action that affects the environment and seek funding from Congress. Generally, this meant that all actions of federal government that would greatly affect the environment must first be properly documented through an EIS. The EIS basically includes the environmental impacts of any action and the identification of the environmental impacts that are unavoidable (National Environmental Policy Act.

gov, 2008). The law also requires for that this document be made available to the public for scrutiny. In other words, before the federal government can build a bridge, it must first submit an EIS to Congress before it can proceed with its plan. The main reason behind the creation of this law is due to massive concerns that the environment, particularly the trees, plants, and wildlife are being endangered by projects initiated by the federal government such as infrastructures like interstate highways (Answers. com, 2008).

On a personal note, I believe that the environmental law far outweighs the cost. The main issue here is that the government must first conduct a study on possible environmental effects on a site where it plans to build a new structure. This means that through the EIS, the government could devise a way to build a new structure without severely damaging the environment. The costs cannot be simply measured in terms of dollars because the law concerns the environment such as natural resources which is essential to any country.

While it may be true that the construction of interstate highways after clearing out trees and natural life would provide convenience to the public and possibly added taxes to the government, in the long run, it would adversely affect us. This is best exemplified by the looming threat of global warming as one of its major causes is extensive damage to the environment. Moreover, it has been shown countless of times that cutting down trees to put up commercial structures, buildings, and other projects have caused flooding.

In short, taking this law for granted would cost more than adhering to its policies. Evidently the environmental impact of this law was that it helped preserve wildlife species and other living things such as trees and plants. Specifically it helped lessen the endangered species of both plants and animals because it retained their natural habitats. Over-all the law has achieved its main purpose and goals. At present, the law has shown significant effects particularly on decision making because it enables the participation of the public, such as environmental groups, during the evaluation of the EIS.

In other words, the law not only helped preserve the environment but also made the voices of the people heard through democratic processes.


  • Answers. com. (2008). Environmental Impact Statements. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from http://www. answers. com/topic/environmental-impact-statement. Cornell University Law School. (2008).
  • Environmental Laws. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from http://topics. law. cornell. edu/wex/Environmental_law. National Environmental Policy Act. gov. (2008).
  • The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from http://www. nepa. gov/nepa/regs/nepa/nepaeqia. htm