The Trump admiration is trying to gut the law that puts the “public” in public lands management.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is the foundation of environmental protection and public participation in public lands management. It requires environmental impact reviews for major federal projects and gives citizen stakeholders a role in federal land management.
In 2018 the Trump Administration Council on Environmental Quality proposed to “modernize” NEPA supposedly in order to remedy the poor condition of America’s infrastructure. Instead the rules were re-written to eliminate environmental review and block public participation.
One of the most damaging rule changes is to say that cumulative effects would not be required under NEPA.
In fact, most environmental harm is not caused by a single catastrophic effect but by a combination of minor impacts over time, in turn driven by the cumulative impacts of decisions by multiple federal state and local agencies. To ignore cumulative effects would actually mean ignoring most environmental impacts.
The NEPA re-write would also curtail information by placing arbitrary limits on how long the environmental review process can take and how many pages can be in an Environmental Impact Statement.
Along with the NEPA rule changes, the Trump administration is trying to redefine what constitutes a major federal project to expand the list of exclusions that don’t require a review. Since the opportunity for public comment derives from NEPA, there would be no public comment period for these excluded projects.
Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) cheered the changes, saying that “fringe-left special interest groups will continue to scream bloody murder.” If by “fringe-left” he means people who care about functioning ecosystems, clean air and clean water, they will, indeed.
Protect NEPA: protectnepa.org/