Policy Practicum: The National Environmental Policy Act: Pushing the Reset Button


Course Code:
LAW 413R
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


This policy lab will focus on recommendations for the reform and modernization of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) — the granddaddy of our environmental laws. NEPA is a disclosure statute which requires that before federal officials can issue a permit, commit federal funds, or otherwise take an action that may have a significant impact on the environment, decision-makers must have the opportunity to review an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyzes the potential environmental consequences of the proposed action and its alternatives. Many critics from both the right and left are dissatisfied with the way that NEPA and its state analogues are being implemented, prompting some legislators to advocate statutory overrides and agency officials to expand the use of categorical exemptions. Meanwhile, NEPA proponents are interested in making the environmental review process more user-friendly and efficient, while preserving its core disclosure requirements. In this policy lab, students will review, analyze, and develop positions on potential NEPA reform options. Students will interact with NEPA experts at the White House¿s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and produce work product that CEQ can use as it responds to Congressional and outside pressure to reform the NEPA process. Students may normally receive no more than four units for a Policy Lab practicum and no more than a total of eight units of Policy Lab practicums and Directed Research projects combined may be counted toward graduation unless additional units for graduation are approved in advanced by the Petitions Committee. A student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. Elements used in grading: Class Participation, Attendance, Final Paper. Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.

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