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CEQ to Revise Government-Wide NEPA Guidance
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has published a proposed rule to revise their government-wide guidance on implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposed rule incorporates direction from the recently-enacted Fiscal Responsibility Act that contained positive NEPA reforms, but also includes additional language on environmental justice, removes a requirement for a monetary bond for groups challenging NEPA on procedural grounds, and makes sizeable changes to how agencies can or should consider mitigation as part of their analysis.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act enshrined a number of the Trump-era NEPA reforms, including page numbers, time limits, and clarifying the role of cooperating agencies. Unfortunately, the novel provisions of the proposed rule will undercut those improvements, leading to further delays and inefficient consideration when NEPA is required.
The 60-day public comment period is scheduled to close September 29, 2023. During that time, CEQ will hold the following virtual public meetings:
- Saturday, August 26
- Wednesday, August 30
- Monday, September 11
- Thursday, September 21
Registration is open for all four meetings on the NEPA Website, including registration for speaking roles. PLC will develop substantive comments in the coming weeks, and will also have a grassroots letter available for affiliate sign-on. PLC submitted comments during the NEPA “Phase 1” regulatory effort, and will continue to build on that platform as we oppose unhelpful components of this second phase.
Burro Gather Plan for the Three Rivers Complex
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment that analyzes a 10-year plan to gather and remove federally-protected wild burros from the Alamo, Big Sandy, and Havasu herd management areas (HMAs) in Arizona — known collectively as the Three Rivers Complex. The plan also analyzes fertility control treatments and sex ratio adjustments of the herds on those HMAs.
The current wild burro population in Three Rivers is approx. 2,300, which the BLM estimates is nearly four times the appropriate management level.
When wild burro numbers are unmanaged and overpopulated, the animals are far more likely to suffer from dehydration, starvation, and conflict with other species, and their overgrazing seriously degrades the landscape. Burros, in particular, are also known to come up close to roadways and human development when they are overcrowded, increasing their risk of injury or death due to motor vehicles. Wild burros have very few natural predators, and unmanaged herds can double in size every four years. To protect the health of public lands, native wildlife habitat, and the burros themselves, the BLM actively manages herd population growth through humane gathers, removals, fertility control treatments, sales and adoptions.
BLM is accepting comments until October 11, 2023. Click here to view the draft EIS. To comment, click on "Participate Now" on the lefthand side.