Effectiveness in NEPA decision making: in search of evidence and theory

Kirk Emerson, Elizabeth Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires federal agencies to analyze the environmental impacts of proposed actions that could impact the human environment, as well as consult the public before determining whether to proceed. Despite many thousands of environmental reviews over a 50-year history, there remains limited understanding of what NEPA has achieved and the factors that contribute to effective environmental review. While NEPA has been the subject of many empirical studies, this scholarship only rarely makes use of theories that would help scholars predict whether and why environmental impact assessment processes are effective. To aid scholars in the ongoing effort to assess NEPA’s effectiveness, we connect the literature on environmental impact assessment with social science concepts and theories that can improve scholars’ ability to explain whether and why environmental impact assessment practices are effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-443
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • NEPA
  • environmental decision making
  • environmental impact assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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