The National Environmental Policy Act may be one of the most important laws you have never heard about.
Chances are, you’ve lived in a neighborhood that has benefitted from National Environmental Policy Act, or you’ve enjoyed a trip to a place protected by the law, or you’ve participated as an active member of your community in processes set in motion by the law—without even realizing NEPA was working for you.
The National Environmental Policy Act protects the environment and our communities before damage is done. (This is how NEPA does it.)
Some people thought when the National Environmental Policy Act became law that it was a grand gesture that might have little effect.
They were wrong.
The first lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act was brought—and won—by Earthjustice (then known as Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) on behalf of the Sierra Club in 1971. It demanded an environmental study before the government allowed the Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River in New Mexico, to be turned into a concrete ditch. The project failed to gain approval. The 649-mile Gila River lives to flow on today.
In the four decades since, this law that ensures the federal government informs and engages the public it serves has become one of the most important tools to protect communities and our environment.
Arecibo is just one of many communities across the country that are successfully using the National Environmental Policy Act as the first and last line of defense to protect their homes against government mismanagement and industry abuse.
What you should know about the National Environmental Policy Act