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NEPA And Other Overarching Statutes

A collage of photographs depicting Hanford Site Nuclear Waste; artic researcher; space shuttle and a submarine.


Of all the statutes which NRS addresses, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) gives rise to the greatest variety of litigation. NEPA, enacted in 1970, requires every federal agency to examine the environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions and to consider reasonable alternatives and cumulative impacts, sharing its analysis with the public for comment, before deciding on action. Because the substantive statute pursuant to which the agency is undertaking the action may provide broad discretionary protection to agency decision making, NEPA’s “procedural” requirements are often the principal, and in some cases the only available tool for dissatisfied citizens to challenge agency action in the courts.

NRS’s NEPA litigation clients include virtually all federal agencies, and an astonishing variety of programs and projects. NRS has litigated NEPA cases concerning such diverse topics such as:

  • federal financing of highway and other infrastructure projects,
  • Army, Navy and Air Force training exercises,
  • management decisions in National Parks and National Forests,
  • Space Shuttle launches and scientific research into particle physics and the impacts of climate change on our coastline,
  • nuclear weapons disposal and cleanup of sites used to process nuclear fuel, 
  • renewable energy projects (wind farms, solar farms, biofuels, waste-to-energy),
  • Antarctic research,
  • IRS regulations,
  • whale hunting and ceremonial practices involving eagles,
  • international pipelines that transport energy resources, and
  • the transshipment of radioactive waste through the Panama Canal.

NRS litigation has charted the development of NEPA case law over the past four decades. Its lawyers are recognized experts in the field, and are sought after for teaching and lecturing inside and outside the Government.

NRS also handles litigation arising from other statutes that impose pre-decisional consultative and analytical requirements on federal agencies, including the National Historic Preservation Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. 


Updated May 12, 2015

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