Between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2006, 53 federal executive branch entities made available to the public 2,236 final environmental impact statements (EISs). The US Forest Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and the US Army Corps of Engineers prepared 51% of these documents. We evaluated the individual performances of these three entities and that of all other EIS-producing entities combined. The number of final EISs made available annually from 1998 through 2006 was comparable to the 20-year average calculated from US Environmental Protection Agency data. We determined the time required to prepare 2,095 of the final EISs made available during our study period. The time to prepare an EIS ranged from 51 days to 6,708 days (18.4 years). The average time for all federal entities was 3.4 years. Average times differed significantly by year and by entity. The time for all entities to prepare their EISs increased during our study period by an average of 37 days per year; most of this increase was associated with the preparation of draft EISs. The percentage of EISs completed within three years or less from publication of the Notice of Intent decreased throughout the study period. The decrease was matched by an increase in the percentage of EISs completed within four to eight years from publication of the Notice of Intent. Our data indicate that various attempts to “streamline” the EIS preparation process have either failed or have yet to take effect.
Environmental Practice 10:164–174 (2008)