The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1969 and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970. The initiative was pushed through Congress by Henry “Scoop” Jackson. An Indiana professor, Lynton K. Caldwell worked with Jackson on the legislation. Caldwell is considered to be the architect NEPA and U.S. environmental policy.
The following is an excerpt of the history of the Environmental Protection Agency:
Implicitly, what this legislation did ‐ as a matter of policy, was to put people in second place behind protection of the environment. Why? Because we live in the environment. It is our habitat. We can’t live without using natural resources and their mission is to protect those resources. The conflict is inherent in the mission. In the history (link above), one of the paragraphs is headed “An Agency for the Environment”. Think about that.
The 1970 legislation didn’t actually create the EPA as an agency. It created the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ). The CEQ is an executive branch advisory council. The CEQ recommended creation of the EPA as an agency to manage the process of Environmental Impact Statements. The jurisdiction of the CEQ and the EPA was only WITHIN the federal government ‐ to ensure that the federal government was cognizant of the environment for their projects and policies.
“Under presidential authority, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issues regulations to Federal agencies regarding the preparation and content of environmental impact statements”. Lynton Caldwell, the National Environmental Policy Act, 1998
NEPA and the implementation of it are deceptively simple. NEPA sets up the policy framework but does not articulate the details. This leaves the details to be defined on the fly. In effect, the CEQ was set up to manage the actions of all federal agencies through the simple mechanism of the Environmental Impact Statement ‐ with the power of life and death of an action based on approval or disapproval of the EIS.
Q: How would you characterize EPA’s early involvement in
international environmental affairs?
MR. RUCKELSHAUS: I primarily agreed with Russell Train
that he should take over most of the international work. I did go
to several conferences, was a delegate to the Stockholm
Conference in 1970, and signed some international agreements
to help both developed and developing countries with their
environmental programs. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, we
led the rest of the world in dealing with the environment.
The following is an excerpt from a book written by Caldwell, published in 1998, titled The National Environmental Policy Act: An Agenda for the Future (Pages 97‐98):
The significance as it pertains to the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 as domestic policy is that the mechanisms for following the edicts of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) are built into the framework of the domestic environmental organization within the U.S. government itself. There is no need to write a white paper telling federal, state and local agencies to implement Agenda 21 because Agenda 21 policies are integral (i.e. the mission) within the CEQ and EPA and WITHIN EVERY AGENCY OF GOVERNMENT because of the design of NEPA.
UNEP was created as a result of the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The ultimate output from the conference was the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment. A copy of their 40th year anniversary history is available on their website. The following is from that history – emphasis added:
The Stockholm Conference had agreed on a Declaration with an associated set of Principles. It had agreed on an Action Plan of 109 recommendations: the world’s first tentative blueprint for planetary environmental management. Its scope was enormous, calling for global cooperation to monitor the biosphere, safeguard ecosystems, curb marine pollution, improve housing in poor countries, collect genetic samples, protect whales and other endangered species, study energy needs and sources, aid population planning, conserve soils and forests and fisheries, promote environmental education and training and information exchange, and adapt trade and aid policies so as to share equitably the burdens of environmental protection. Page 27
Another quote from this 40‐year history is the following:
“The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, taken together with the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development agreed in June 1992, now has pride of place among the ever‐growing corpus of international law relating to the environment.” Page 17
And this one:
The World Bank, itself a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, though with a rather special statute and status, was increasingly active in the field of environment. As Robert McNamara, the World Bank Group’s President, would later point out in his speech to the Stockholm conference: “Our experience is that environmental protection can be built into development projects as competently and successfully as any other requisite element.” The Bank, Mr. McNamara said, didn’t limit its operations simply to the environment side of development projects. “It finances many projects that are specifically directed at environmental goals — urban water supply and sewerage treatment, for example, as well as soil erosion control, and water resources management.” Page 15
The significance of those quotes will become apparent within the rest of this story but the point for now is that the United Nations has so many specialized agencies that it’s hard to keep track of them. It’s like trying to keep track of a band of gypsies in a clothing store. They are all going in different directions but they all have a single mission.
At the bottom of page 113, the report says that through the early to the mid 1970’s Germany was concerned that the environmental program was not focusing enough attention on international initiatives for the conservation of nature. In particular, they were concerned about migratory birds. Obviously, migratory birds cross borders. What happens next is a classic example of promoting one idea for one purpose without revealing the real underlying purpose.
Willy Brandt was the Chancellor of West Germany at the time. Brandt strongly supported the reunification of East and West Germany. He resigned in 1974 when it was discovered that he had an East German spy in his cabinet. Note: reference to the Helsinki Final Act. In 1977, Robert McNamara, then President of the World Bank suggested the establishment of a commission with Willy Brandt as the Chairman. The name of the Commission was the Independent Commission on International Development. The Commission began work in 1977 and published their report in 1980. It was titled A Programme of Survival although it is most commonly referred to as North‐South: A Programme of Survival. The U.S.-Mexico treaty for border environmental cooperation signed in 1983 in La Paz, Mexico commonly known as the La Paz Treaty was the first step towards implementation of the North-South Programme of Survival. It was essentially the beginning of the disintegration of the United States as a sovereign, independent nation state to be replaced over time by a regional management system for North America.
The significance of this Commission cannot be appreciated without an understanding of the organization of the world system of policy development. Because of that, I’ve pulled out a section of the report that gives a good overview of the international institutions – along with the people involved in this commission. Of special note, on page 215, the Commission wrote: UN Secretary‐General Kurt Waldheim showed great interest in the formation of this Independent Commission, and agreed that he would receive the first copy of the Commission’s Report. (Note: Kurt Waldheim was a Nazi).
Katharine Graham, Washington Post
Peter G. Peterson, Chairman of the Board of Lehman Brothers
Eminent Persons – invited to testify:
Harlan Cleveland, USA
Henry Kissinger, USA
The following is an excerpt from the beginning of the report to explain the thinking behind the report:
Destruction or Development?
Our Report is based on what appears to be the simplest common interest: that mankind wants to survive, and one might even add has the moral obligation to survive. This not only raises the traditional questions of peace and war, but also of how to overcome world hunger, mass misery and alarming disparities between the living conditions of rich and poor.
If reduced to a simple denominator, this Report deals with peace. War is often thought of in terms of military conflict, or even annihilation. But there is a growing awareness that an equal danger might be chaos — as a result of mass hunger, economic disaster, environmental catastrophes, and terrorism. So we should not think only of reducing the traditional threats to peace, but also of the need for change from chaos to order.
The terms ‘North’ and ‘South’ are used to collectively refer to developed and developing countries respectively – or more accurately perceived as the rich countries and the poor countries. The purpose of the report was to provide an outline of what the world of countries should do as a mission “for the survival of all”. Keeping in mind, this report was published in 1980…
Did I mention that Willy Brandt was a Socialist – with a capital ‘S’? And the significance of his resignation was that he was collaborating with Communists against the interests of his own country – West Germany. Factor that into your thinking as this proceeds.
North‐South – International Law for the Environment
In 1981, the United Nations Environment Programme held their first conference to discuss the mechanisms to building a body of international environmental law. The meeting was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1982, the program developed in 1981 was adopted by the Governing Council of UNEP and it became known as the Montevideo Programme. They followed the pattern established at the first conference to meet every ten years – followed by a meeting in the next year to adopt the body of international law written in the previous ten years. Adoption meetings occurred in 1992 in Rio de Janiero and 2002 in Johannasburg, South Africa. They appear to have changed the schedule for the Fourth Montevideo conference. It was held in 2009 and Montevideo IV was adopted in 2010.
Excerpt from Montevideo II – “In order to further elaborate the Montevideo Programme to address emerging environmental problems and develop relevant legal regimes, UNEP convened two sessions of the Meeting of Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law for the Review of the Montevideo Programme in Rio de Janiero in October/November 1991 and in Nairobi in September 1992 respectively. Through the two sessions, government experts from more than 80 developing countries and developed countries and observers from relevant organizations attended the meeting. Participants of the latter session of the meeting, taking into account the outcome of UNCED, in particular Agenda 21, considered a draft Programme prepared by the UNEP secretariat and agreed on the Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law for the Present decade.”