Environment: Rescuing Rivers

Blame environmentalism for the fact that federal agencies can no longer get things done in the old, unquestioned way. The Atomic Energy Commission's proposed nuclear power plants, the Interior Department's plans to lease drilling rights to offshore oil deposits, Corps of Engineers' waterway projects—all these schemes are collecting dust on bureaucrats' shelves.

Forcing the new delays and difficulties is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires federal agencies to publish detailed statements describing the expected impact of any proposed project on its natural surroundings. Last week, that mandate caught up with the Agriculture Department's Soil Conservation Service. As a result,...

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