Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 2022-04-11T14:19:51+00:00 Columbia Journal of Environmental Law Open Journal Systems <div class="content"> <p>The&nbsp;<em>Columbia Journal of Environmental Law</em>&nbsp;was founded in 1972 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. The&nbsp;<em>Journal</em>&nbsp;is one of the oldest environmental law journals in the nation and is regarded as one of the preeminent environmental journals in the country. &nbsp;Our subscribers include law libraries, law firms, individuals, and federal, local, and state courts, as well as a significant international readership.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> Bridges to a New Era, Part 2: A Report on the Past, Present, and Potential Future of Tribal Co-Management on Federal Public Lands in Alaska 2022-04-11T13:00:37+00:00 Monte Mills Martin Nie <p><em>Nowhere else in the United States are tribal connections and reliance on federal public lands as deep and geographically broad-based as in what is now Alaska. &nbsp;The number of Tribes—229 federally recognized tribes—and the scope of the public land resource—nearly 223 million acres—are simply unparalleled. &nbsp;Across that massive landscape, federal public lands and the subsistence uses they provide remain, as they have been since time immemorial, “essential to Native physical, economic, traditional, and cultural existence.”<a href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1"><strong>[1]</strong></a> &nbsp;Alas, the institutions, systems, and processes responsible for managing those lands, protecting those uses, and honoring those connections are failing Alaska Native Tribes. </em></p> <p><em>The cases referenced in this article share a common theme: federal land officials underutilize their existing legal authorities to engage tribes in the management of federal public lands, or treat them like pro-forma “check-the-box” exercises that must be done but have no real substantive impact on decisions that are likely already made. &nbsp;In case after case, Alaska Native Tribes are forced to defensively react to federal land use programs, plans, and projects they had no role in substantively shaping.&nbsp; Though traditional methods of tribal consultation and engagement are used by federal land agencies, they are viewed for the most part as procedural hurdles that are divorced from their core missions and mandates. </em></p> 2022-04-11T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Monte Mills, Martin Nie Evidence-Based Recommendations for Improving National Environmental Policy Act Implementation 2022-04-11T13:35:09+00:00 John C. Ruple Jamie Pleune Erik Heiny <p><em>The National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts before acting.&nbsp; NEPA is the Magna Carta of U.S. environmental law, a topic of intense debate, and the subject of ongoing rulemaking efforts.&nbsp; Prior NEPA scholarship focuses almost exclusively on Environmental Impact Statements, which account for just 1% of all NEPA decisions.&nbsp; Little is known about the length of time required to complete the other 99% of agency decisions, which involve a more streamlined review.&nbsp; This is a critical gap in the literature because NEPA compliance involves an estimated 50,000 federal decisions annually.&nbsp; NEPA reform, we believe, should begin with a careful understanding of NEPA practice </em><em>at all levels of review. </em><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></p> <p><em>To help advance effective NEPA reform, we studied over 41,000 NEPA decisions completed by the U.S. Forest Service between 2004 and 2020.&nbsp; Using this data, we conducted a multivariate statistical analysis of the length of time required to complete the NEPA process at each level of review.&nbsp; We then investigated factors associated with longer decisionmaking times. &nbsp;Our model accounts for interactions between 3 levels of NEPA analysis, 43 activities involved in these decisions, 9 geographic regions, and the year of project initiation.&nbsp; Contrary to widely held assumptions, we found that a less rigorous level of analysis often fails to deliver faster decisions.&nbsp; Delays, we found, are often caused by factors only tangentially related to the Act, like inadequate agency budgets, staff turnover, delays receiving information from permit applicants, and compliance with other laws.&nbsp; Improving NEPA efficacy, we argue, should therefore focus on improving agency capacity.&nbsp; This approach, we believe, would improve the NEPA process and advance NEPA’s mandate to engage with key stakeholders and carefully consider environmental impacts before making decisions.</em></p> 2022-04-11T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2022 John C. Ruple, Jamie Pleune , Erik Heiny