I Wish They All Could Be California Environmental Quality Acts: Rethinking NEPA in Light of Climate Change

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Vol: 36, Issue: 1, Page: 239

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O'Brien, Conor
Environmental Law
textual work description
Scientific evidence indicates that the repercussions of climate change are numerous, severe, and result from human activity. One possible method of curbing climate change may lie with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that federal agencies gather and disclose information about the environmental impacts of their activities. Shortly after NEPA’s passage, California enacted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a statute similar to NEPA addressing the environmental impacts of state and local agencies’ activities. One significant departure from NEPA was that CEQA not only required that agencies disclose the environmental impacts of their activities, but that they avoid significant impacts in many circumstances. This Note discusses why omitting this requirement from NEPA makes it less useful in addressing climate change than its California counterpart, compares NEPA to CEQA, and suggests changes which could make NEPA a more useful tool for regulating climate change.