Uma Outka

Document Type



The purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to assure “for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings,” a goal that is essential to environmental justice. Although NEPA provides the structure for federal environmental decisionmaking, is it effective as a tool for addressing environmental justice concerns? This Essay addresses NEPA’s limitations and potential for this purpose, and assesses the role of case law and judicial review in shaping this integrative process. To do so, it considers the environmental justice implications of NEPA’s structural gaps—including exemptions, categorical exclusions, and so-called “functional equivalents”— and evaluates judicial review of agencies’ environmental justice analyses to date.