“Little NEPAs”: State Equivalents to the National Environmental Policy Act in Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin

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Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1969 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is the United States’ flagship environmental law. Unlike, for example, the Endangered Species Act, another one of the many major environmental laws passed around the same time as NEPA, NEPA is a procedural law, requiring that all Federal actions be examined for their impacts on the natural and human environment. NEPA is often known best for the environmental assessments (EA) and environmental impact statements (EIS) that often require tremendous resources in the form of time, money, and technical expertise to complete, despite NEPA’s intent to ensure that potential impacts on the natural and human environments are taken into account in decision making.
Since the enactment of NEPA, sixteen states, New York City, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have enacted procedural laws similar to NEPA in their intent to require activities at a state level to document their impacts on the natural and human environment and to include environmental considerations in decision-making . These “little NEPAs” vary widely in their requirements, impact, and effectiveness in encouraging state decision makers to take into account impacts on the natural environment. This paper will examine three little NEPAs of three Midwestern states – Indiana’s Indiana Environmental Policy Act (IEPA), Minnesota’s Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), and Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA). These three laws, while all having common roots in the explosion of environmental laws promulgated in the late 1960s and early 1970s and sharing the basic goal of NEPA to integrate environmental considerations into governmental decision making, have developed in different ways in response to different pressures and legislative environments.






Marchman, Patrick (2012). “Little NEPAs”: State Equivalents to the National Environmental Policy Act in Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5891.

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