IMPACT OF NEPA GUIDELINES UPON THE JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING PROCESS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY

The proposal of expressway construction in an urban area divides the community into those with centrifugal private concerns and those with centripetal public concerns about the socio-economic and political effects of the highway. The courts provide a unique forum where the decision making process, the effects and values of such planning are probed. Litigation forces proponents to consider the consequences of their propsals. However, there are different local norms in different local courts. As judges are members of the local community they may favor the status quo and be unwilling to change it.With this in mind the author has analysed data on precedents from federal district and appellate courts on decisions under regarding provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act as to the preparation of environmental impact statements by the Secretary of Transportation for the siting of expressways prior to approval funding in order to find out whether judges are incorporating national criteria into the adjustication process. The main problem is when to implement the statutory requirements. In Wildlife Preserves v. Volpe the third circuit court held that the designing stage is the critical point where environmental, economic and social factors should be considered and that as to projects where planning took place prior the enactment of NEPA the courts should decide whether it is "practicable" to require an impact statement. A rash of cases then found that it was not "practicable", reasoning that the plaintiffs unreasonably delayed in bringing suit. The major case pulling away from this was Arlington Coalition on Transportation v Volpe where the court found that the public interest intent of Congress mandated that the case be heard. The author hypothesises that as there are more NEPA cases there will be more judicial activism and short term private concern tendencies will be absorbed into the more national public concerns.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    American Bar Association

    750 N. Lake Shore Drive
    Chicago, IL  USA  60611
  • Authors:
    • Farrer, D G
  • Publication Date: 1974-6

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: p. 645-664
  • Serial:
    • Urban Lawyer
    • Volume: 6
    • Publisher: American Bar Association
    • ISSN: 0042-0905

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00095467
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 29 1975 12:00AM