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Congress Considers New Environmental Protection Act

June 1973

Citation: 3 ELR 10074

Issue: 6

The Environmental Protection Act of 1973, introduced by Sen. Philip Hart and now being considered by Congress, proposes procedural and substantive changes in federal law to aid environmentalists. The full text is set out at the end of this Comment. The broad purpose of the Act, which is modeled to some extent on Michigan's Environmental Protection Act of 1970, is to give each citizen a right to "the protection and enhancement of environmental quality" and an adequate equitable remedy "to protect environmental quality from impairment and degradation."

Under the Act, standing to sue is accorded those who "speak knowingly for the environmental values asserted." In addition, the opportunity for judicial review of the substance of federal agency decisions concerning the environment is expanded in two ways. First, the courts need not defer to agency findings when they are contradicted by the "preponderance of the evidence." Second, even when an agency's action is within the range of legitimate discretionary choices the court may (a) independently review the substantive balancing of environmental and economic costs and the expected benefits, or (b) require that an alternative course of action be taken that is less damaging to the environment.

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