The Role of Bureaucratic Practice in U.S. Environmental Law: The Case of the National Environmental Policy Act
In the late-1960s and early-1970s, a burst of U.S. federal environmental legislation inaugurated contemporary U.S. environmental law and influenced environmental law abroad. The conventional understanding is that passage of landmark statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act marked a “dramatic repudiation of the Progressive model of administration” to usher in an era of “administrative pluralism,” in which bureaucratic experts and courts mediated the competing priorities of industrial and environmental interest groups. Departing from the conventional understanding, my project will develop an account of these laws’ combination of administrative capacity for environmental protection and epistemic humility, sometimes dissuading anthropogenic management altogether. The project attempts to clarify the founding vision of U.S> federal environmental-bureaucratic governance, and, beyond the academy, to advance courts/agencies’ understanding of these major environmental laws.