David M. Shea

Document Type



Passage of the Project BioShield Act of 2004 evinced an executive and legislative desire to increase government-controlled laboratory space dedicated to studying dangerous pathogens. Pursuant to this Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded generous construction grants to research universities nationwide. Unsurprisingly, siting disputes have subsequently arisen over the placement of several of these proposed laboratories in densely populated areas. Because NIH chose not to complete a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), the potential litigation endgames are suboptimal. This fuels a larger debate over the relevance of PEISs in general in light of their recognized value but sporadic invocation. This Note uses a game theory model to argue that initial completion of a thorough PEIS would have led NIH to propose laboratories in areas with comparatively lower population densities. This preferable but currently unattainable outcome demonstrates the need for reform. To that end, this Note concludes with recommendations for legislative, executive, and judicial modernization of PEISs.