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When There are No Adverse Effects: Protecting the Environment from the Misapplication of NEPA Open Access

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Governmental actions that benefit the environment are threatened by an incorrect interpretation of NEPA requiring an EIS for actions based solely on beneficial significant effects. At least one circuit has reached this conclusion, with others entertaining the question in dicta. By analyzing the language of NEPA, its purposes, legislative history, and the implementing regulations of CEQ, the conclusion is reached that NEPA was not intended to be interpreted to frustrate government actions that benefit the environment, by requiring an EIS. Agencies can best protect themselves from litigation, by amending their own NEPA implementing regulations to clearly indicate that an EIS is not required for actions with no significant adverse effects.

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