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Montana Geological Society: Twenty-fourth Annual Conference: 1978 Williston Basin Symposium: The Economic Geology of Williston
ABSTRACT: Environmental and Regulatory Aspects of Project Design and Implementation
The environmental assessment and review process was established by the National Environmental Policy Act and other acts by the federal government and the individual states to provide an opportunity for balanced decision making. The intent of these laws is to provide for the consideration of values of the social and natural environment as well as economic value and other considerations in deciding on the advisability of proceeding with specific programs requiring government authorization. The implementation of this process has resulted in more active environmental sensitivity by many citizens and the more active incorporation of environmental values in the planning of major programs by many of their proponents. It has provided for active public participation in the process of deciding on the authorization of important programs. It has also contributed to a decision making process which can take many years too long and which is too complex. It has resulted in many environmental impact statements being prepared which are much too long and difficult to understand to be of value in the decision making process. The process is vulnerable to legal challenges at a multitude of its stages, which can essentially block final decisions from ever being reached. The environmental assessment and review process is in the process of reform in some areas, as evidenced by recent rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Quality Council.