Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The creation of the national Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was an explicit recognition by the congress for the need of a better management system to be used in environmental matters by all federal agencies. Section 102(2)(A) of the Act directs that a systematic, interdisciplinary approach be used in the planning and in the decision-making if the planned action may have an impact on the environment. While the council on Environmental Quality, which was created under the Act, has revised its regulations recently pertaining to the structure and format of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), it has yet to articulate how the EIS is to be done. One could argue that this omission has severely strained the judicial system since most EIS's and their authors find themselves in court attempting to defend their findings. This paper outlines the history and purposes of NEPA and describes in detail a decision analysis methodology that could be used to assess environmental impacts. In addition, a comparative analysis is presented describing the environmental analytic techniques most commonly used today, high-lighting their weaknesses and strengths in comparison to decision analysis. The paper concludes that decision analysis, when properly applied, has great utility in environmental issues since its structured framework will present the best course of action from competing alternatives in a climate of scarce resources, under conditions of uncertainty, and where economic and social costs are involved.