ELI Offers Special Programming in Celebration of Its 50th Year: NEPA 50 Years Later

December 2019

Washington, DC:  Fifty years ago this month, the very same day the Environmental Law Institute was formed, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), setting in motion a new national policy to "encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” Often referred to as the “Magna Carta” of U.S. environmental law, NEPA has been relatively successful in shaping how the government—and its citizens—protect the environment. Yet the environmental challenges we face today are much different from those we faced 50 years ago, and the Trump Administration has proposed to amend the NEPA regulations to reduce the environmental review process from five years to two. And so while NEPA may be a 50-year old statute, its future is anything but certain. Throughout the month of December, ELI will take a closer look at NEPA 50 Years Later as we wrap up our year-long celebration of ELI’s 50th anniversary.

On December 17, ELI will hold a special 50th Anniversary conference, Navigating NEPA 50 Years Later: The Past, Present, and Future. At this day long conference, leading experts will reflect on NEPA’s past and successes, explore the current challenges NEPA faces, and look to the  Act’s future. Mary B. Neumayr, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality, will give opening remarks, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) will give the afternoon keynote. Click here for the agenda and complete list of speakers.

Also be sure to check out the special Golden Anniversary issue of The Environmental Forum. In it, Nicholas C. Yost, former General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and lead author of NEPA’s implementing regulations, offers insight as to how the Act and its regulations came into fruition and shares his thoughts on how we may want to shape it in the future. Vernice Miller-Travis, senior vice president for environment and sustainability at Metropolitan Group, also writes about NEPA in the special issue. She explains that while the federal government has used NEPA to safeguard Americans from the ill effects of large-scale developments for half a century, NEPA’s guarantees will be fully realized only when its language is equitably translated into policy designed to help those communities most adversely affected

ELI traces its origins to a national conference on the emerging field of environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969. Often described as a one-of-a kind environmental law think-and-do tank, ELI continues to effect change through its work as a premier environmental law educator, convener, publisher, and research engine as we enter our 50th year.

Be sure to check out our blogs, podcasts, and other online resources for additional material. And visit https://www.eli.org/eli-50th-anniversary throughout the year for details and updates on ELI’s 50th anniversary programming.