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Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — February 1988


The Limits of Federal Environmental Responsibility and Control Under the National Environmental Policy Act

by William B. Ellis and Turner T. Smith Jr.

Editors' Summary: Although NEPA has been with us for nearly two decades, the precise extent of the statute's application remains cloudy. The courts continue to struggle with the scope of "Federal action," particularly where proposed federal conduct with little direct environmental effect will make possible nonfederal activities of great environmental consequence. Mr. Ellis and Mr. Smith examine the case law on this issue, identifying two different analytical trends reflected in the various decisions. One of these trends is to analyze the nonfederal conduct as an "indirect effect" of the "Federal action," while the other approach regards the nonfederal conduct as part of the "Federal action" itself. The authors assert that the latter approach is flawed because it fails to strike the proper balance between federal environmental control and unfettered nonfederal decisionmaking, and they carefully examine three recent decisions that can be interpreted as disfavoring that approach.


Myth vs. Reality: Silent Spring a Quarter Century Later

by Leonard T. Flynn

Samuel Epstein and Shirley Briggs reiterate Rachel Carson's grim Silent Spring1 vision of the world in their recent Dialogue.2 The authors state that the "runaway technology" of the chemical industry is responsible for increasing cancer rates and "contamination of our world." This apocalyptic3 view of cancer and pollution is not supported by the scientific knowledge gained in the quarter century since Silent Spring was published.

In reality, the technological progress of the last 25 years has brought both health and environmental benefits, largely due to modern chemicals. A safer workplace, cleaner environment, and longer lifespan result from applying modern technology to solve health and environmental problems and thereby enhance modern existence.

Hand in Hand: Economic Development and Environmental Protection

by Senator Robert W. Kasten Jr.

The multilateral development banks (MDBs)1 spend more than $20 billion annually to promote economic development in less developed nations, and leverage billions more. The MDBs are the world's largest institutions financing economic development.

The project selection processes of these banks, however, often promote nonsustainable development projects. All too often, the MDBs' predisposition to promote the outlay of capital takes precedence over the need for in-depth assessment of economic and environmental impact. It is essential for these influential institutions to realize that economic development is dependent on environmental protection. For long-term sustainable economic development to occur, basic environmental resources must be protected. Development gains that lack environmental safeguards all too often cannot be sustained, and result in systematic economic collapse.