WASHINGTON (April 24, 2018) – Today the Public Lands Council released policy proposals for reducing the abuse of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and restoring much-needed balance to federal land management decisions in the West. As Congress debates NEPA reform, including at a hearing tomorrow in the House Committee on Natural Resources, PLC is urging lawmakers to protect the federal government’s multiple-use mission and end the relentless cycle of litigation that plagues federal land managers and ranchers alike.
“Radical environmental activists have transformed the NEPA process into a black hole of lawsuits and regulatory delays,” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council. “Under the status quo, avowed opponents of multiple use are empowered to abuse NEPA review procedures and drown out the voices of local stakeholders.”
Common-sense reforms can effectively combat abuse of the NEPA process, reducing the threat of litigation that obstructs government action and ensuring federal resources are devoted to real land management and conservation goals. PLC recommendations for Congress include:
Define and enhance the use of Categorical Exclusions. Where appropriate, Categorical Exclusions should be used to reduce unnecessary litigation and manage agency workload. For example, new or additional NEPA analysis is unnecessary for the renewal of a grazing permit with a continuing use that is exhibiting satisfactory environmental conditions or a positive trend.
Enhance and refine the stakeholder consultation process. The current process provides undue weight to disconnected supporters of radical environmental groups, who typically submit form or modified form comments with the click of a button. Steps should be taken to protect the voices of local stakeholders with first-hand knowledge of the issues and ensure state and municipal governments can play a constructive role in federal land management decisions.
Streamline and clarify NEPA review procedures. A wide range of agency directives, data requirements, and impact analyses create endless red tape and serve as easy targets for process-focused challenges. Congress should examine the full scope of review procedures and requirements to ensure clarity, transparency, and fair consideration of socioeconomic impacts.
To view PLC’s detailed policy proposals and explanations click here.