|NWP signs on to support NEPA process|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:00|
The Nevada Wilderness Project supported and signed onto a letter that was just delivered to the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives. NWP joined a number of large national conservation organizations in urging Congressional leaders to shepherd a continued commitment to the environmental review processes guided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Passed by Congress on the first day of 1970, this Act established national policy that promoted the enhancement of the environment by establishing certain procedural requirements for all federal agencies. It requires these agencies to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to formally address the impacts or consequences of any proposed action on federal land. Examples include decisions that would result in major land alterations such as the permitting of a mine or construction of a dam; as well as small efforts such as installing a big game guzzler. Over time NEPA has been invaluable in securing healthy ecosystems for the benefit of American citizens and visitors. Many states have adopted NEPA-like legislation to address similar review for actions that are not on federal lands within their states.
However, recent attempts have been introduced into Congress that could weaken the intent of NEPA. These attempts try to amend or revoke administrative actions or legislation that had been established to protect the environment. Other attempts are aimed at reducing the amount of time necessary to conduct a thorough review – essentially diluting the process, possibly resulting in incomplete assessment of impacts.
In recent years there has been a movement to develop renewable energy projects on public lands. NWP has been a supporter of clean energy development as an action to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint and to curtail resource extractions that are destructive upon the land. Renewable energy industries have utilized government incentives to proceed in applying for rights-of-way to develop these lands and, in many cases, to build the facilities. The letter asks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to dissuade attempts to seek restrictions upon the public review process. Such oversight is essential to the Act by allowing scientific experts and public groups and other representatives to evaluate the consequences that proposed projects may have upon on communities and the surrounding environment.
Since its enactment, NEPA has been the method to assure these safeguards. The letter urges that the NEPA process is “understood and appreciated as a critical pathway to move renewable energy development forward.” The signing organizations point out that an effort is already under way to improve the efficiency of environmental review – one that is vetted with the group and thus earns their conservation endorsement. By bringing this to the attention of our elected leaders, the correspondence cautions against legislation that would circumvent or diminish the highly valued NEPA process.