When lawmakers evaluate the environmental effects of major federal actions, the views of local citizens and companies should weigh more heavily, a U.S. House Resources Committee task force declared.
To revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the task force issued nearly two dozen recommendations. It is a broad 1970 law that requires environmental impact reviews for timber harvests, mining permits and oil leases on federal land. The law also applies to virtually every action by a federal agency that may have an impact on the land, water or air.
A longtime critic of NEPA, House Resources Committee says that such reviews can drag on for years.
“There are elements of NEPA that are causing enough uncertainty to warrant modest improvements and modifications to both the statute and its regulations,” the task force said in its report to Pombo.
One proposed change would give greater weight to what local citizens and businesses have to say about the environmental impacts of a federal action, the task force said. “The issues and concerns raised by local interests should be weighted more than comments from outside groups and individuals who are not directly affected by that proposal,” Republican Richard Pombo of California, chairman of the House Resources Committee said.