The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been criticized as inadequate to its task because, with rare exceptions, EISs fail to differentiate critical impacts from trivial ones. Most EISs are descriptive and nonanalytical and tend to provide little more than tables of effluents or "laundry lists of species" and similar synoptic data (Odum, 1977). Although the function of the EIS is to facilitate decision making, descriptive EISs cannot provide the basis for enlightened decisions. This impasse between the presentation of descriptive data and the final use of those data, however, can be overcome. Furthermore, since the decision of acceptability or unacceptability of the proposed action represents a social policy decision, overcoming this impasse requires a coupling of the descriptive data with the social importance of those data.