Comments Needed to Uphold NEPA

//actionnetwork.org/campaign/uphold_NEPA

Signed into law over 35 years ago, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a cornerstone of American environmental law. NEPA requires the federal government to "look before it leaps" by assessing the potential environmental impacts of major federal projects and involving the public before a final decision is made.

Now Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and other pro-industry members of Congress are seeking to gut NEPA under the guise of "improving and updating" the Act. Anti-NEPA legislation could be introduced sometime this year. Please help us build momentum to stop this rollback by letting Congress know you want a strong National Environmental Policy Act.

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s): NEPA Task Force, House Resource Committee

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: NEPA Draft Report Comment

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

Please accept these comments on the Initial Findings and Draft Recommendations from the National Environmental Policy Act Task Force. I am very concerned that the recommendations by the NEPA Task Force would weaken NEPA in profound and fundamental ways.

Echoing the sentiment of thousands of Americans from Washington State to Virginia who have expressed in person and in writing throughout the Task Force hearing process how important NEPA is to their communities, I believe this law is integral to maintaining balance and common sense where environmental decision-making is concerned.

NEPA is the best tool Americans have to learn how federal projects may affect them. It also is the best tool the federal government has to examine the proposed projects and obtain public input. By making sure that the public is informed and that alternatives are considered, NEPA has stopped some unwise and harmful projects and made countless projects better. And even though the report acknowledges that public participation is fundamental to NEPA's success, the Task Force has made several recommendations that dramatically limit who, when, and how the public can participate in all levels of the NEPA process.

I am very concerned that the recommendations 1) add mandatory timelines for the completion of NEPA documentation and only allow for occasional extensions, 2) place significant restrictions on a citizen's ability to participate in the public process and to challenge an agency's decision-making process, which would unfairly tip the balance in favor of business interests rather than keeping the playing field even for all parties concerned, and 3) require that "reasonable alternatives," including those proposed by individual citizens or community groups, be supported by "feasibility and engineering studies." Hardly any ordinary citizen and few organizations have the technical or financial resources to prepare such studies. The industry, on the other hand, has ample resources to do so, and would clearly receive favored treatment under this requirement.

I strongly urge the Task Force to reconsider its recommendations.

Sincerely,


cc: Your Congressperson

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