AuthorJohn C. Cruden
ProfessionPresident Environmental Law Institute
Page ix
e Environmental Law Institute (ELI) has a special interest in the National Environmental Policy
Act that dates back to our shared birth date in December 1969. is Deskbook, now updated, is one of the
most popular resources for environmental professionals in the United States and abroad. I was recently
asked which statute I thought had the greatest impact on environmental law. Although there are many
candidates for this honor, my own candidate is clear: NEPA. Not only did the statute revolutionize federal
decisionmaking, but it has been replicated countless times in st ate statutes and exported to numerous for-
eign governments to guide their decisionmaking. We should always be proud of our nation’s contribution
to the worldwide use of NEPA-like statutes to advance environmental action.
Over the years, the Environmental Law Institute and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
have cooperated in conference a nd research projects. We’ve watched the birth and application of N EPA,
its inculcation into the fabric of the federal government’s decisionmaking process, and its journey through
many courts, creating a nearly unparalleled body of environmental law. Without question, NEPA has been
highly successful in assuring that environmental considerations are factored into federal plann ing and
NEPA is a statute of productive dimensions because it impacts the relationships of the body politic. It
clearly directs coordination among federal, state, municipal, and private agencies that would not occur oth-
erwise. Even when there is gridlock elsewhere, NEPA has often acted as a consensus-building tool to pro-
vide real options that take into account environmental protection. It also empowers citizens to par ticipate
directly in environmental planning. In fact, NEPA has been t he single most useful development in open-
ing up federa l agency decisionmaking to groups that do not have budgets or sta to investigate projects.
Citizen groups nd environmental impact statements (EISs) particularly useful bec ause they include key
information about projects in one, easily accessible document. And, decisionmakers rely on NEPA impact
statements, knowing that they must be both comprehensive and balanced to be eective.
e brilliance of NEPA is that it calls for active citizen and interest group participation to forge consen-
sus and wise environmental decisions. And, it provides a record in one place for key decisions. In this eort,
there is much work for lawyers. e NEPA Deskbook is designed to assist practitioners by assembling the
necessary lega l materials in one place.
e introductory chapter of the Deskbook presents a detailed ana lysis of the statute by the leading U.S.
expert on NEPA. As General Counsel of the CEQ from 1977 until 1981, Nicholas C. Yost led t he suc-
cessful eort to write regulations that put administrative esh on the bare bones of the statute. is expert
legal commentary is accompanied by the text of the statute, the regulations, key policy guidance that gives
insight into NEPA’s implementation, and sample documents prepared under the statute. An especially use-
ful feature of the Deskbook is its collection of summaries of U.S. Supreme Court cases prepared by the sta
of ELI’s highly regarded Environmental Law Reporter (ELR).
Most of the lawsuits led under NEPA have arisen from its stat utory requirement that t he lead agency
le an EIS for each “major Federal action signicantly aecting t he quality of the human environment.”
ese few words, each of them with independent meaning, have become the workhorse of environmental
litigation, and lawyers play a key role in assuring compliance with its requirements. Knowledge of case law
is especia lly essential in t his area, and the Deskbook exc els in presenting cases in a c lear and understand-
able fashion.
As with all ELI Deskbooks, the NEPA Deskbook is an extremely valuable resource for a skilled practi-
tioner. Keep it by your desk. Carry it to meetings. Our editors have carefully screened materials to include
only the information environmental professionals need most.
e Deskbook series is a spino of ELR ’s work in tracking and analyzing legislative, regulatory, and
judicial developments. C ompanion Deskbooks—the Environmental Law Deskbook, the TSCA Deskbook,
the Wetlands Deskbook, the RCR A Permitting Deskbook, the Environmental Crimes Deskbook, t he Natural
Resource Damage Assessment Deskbook, the Superfund Deskbook, a nd the Oil Pollution Deskbook—have
drawn an enthusiastic response from environmental law practitioners.

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