Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Learning from NEPA: Some Guidelines for Responsible Federal Risk Legislation

46 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 1998  

Celia Campbell-Mohn

Vermont Law School

John S. Applegate

Indiana University Maurer School of Law


The past three or more Congresses have seen substantial efforts to enact "risk reform" legislation that would require environmental, health, and safety regulations to be adopted following the performance of risk assessments modeled on quantitative risk assessment methods for carcinogens. While such a requirement has potentially beneficial effects on the quality of the resulting rules, there is also a substantial potential for mischief by reorienting substantive environmental, health, and safety regulation, and by introducing substantial new costs and delays into the regulatory process. This article, which is derived from a report by the authors to support an American Bar Association recommendation on risk legislation, presents eight guidelines that ought to be followed by such legislation were it to be adopted. The article also draws on the experience with the National Environmental Policy Act. Environmental impact statements are analogous to risk assessments in many (heretofore unrecognized) respects, especially the importance of distinguishing between a procedural, analytical tool for decisionmaking and a substantive, result-determinative element of rulemaking.

JEL Classification: Q28, Q38

Suggested Citation

Campbell-Mohn, Celia and Applegate, John S., Learning from NEPA: Some Guidelines for Responsible Federal Risk Legislation. Harvard Environmental Law Review, Vol. 23, p. 93, 1999. Available at SSRN:

Celia Campbell-Mohn (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States
802-763-8303 x2214 (Phone)
802-763-2940 (Fax)

John Applegate

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views