Decision Making in the Environmental Impact Assessment Process

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This essay analyzes the decision-making processes used by government agencies to approve or reject projects that have significant impacts on the environment. One may believe that an agency will use a well-defined procedural process for making decisions, but in reality, various internal and external factors have greater influences over the decision maker. This essay examines some of the real-life inputs into the decision-making process and analyzes the results of three agency decisions that affected the environment. To begin with, I will describe some of the basic requirements for decision making as provided in the implementing regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). I will also discuss several academic observations about decision making with an emphasis on environmental assessments. I present three case studies involving different projects that were analyzed by government agencies using the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. For each example, I provide an overview of the project and the significant issues as documented in the respective EISs. I also describe the agencies’ final decisions and the reasons given for each decision. I plan to demonstrate that government agencies tend to elevate social, cultural, and political concerns over the natural environment. In addition, I plan to demonstrate that unique factors influenced the decision maker in each situation. In the next section, I describe some of the regulatory requirements for environmental decision-making.






Evans, Robert (2014). Decision Making in the Environmental Impact Assessment Process. Retrieved from

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