If It Ain’t Broke, Break It
New report from House Republicans targets cornerstone environmental law
House Republicans have issued a 30-page report that proposes fixes for the National Environmental Policy Act — a law greens say isn’t broken. Since 1970, NEPA has required that activities on federal lands that may have environmental impact (think road building and flood control) be subject to environmental assessments, and that citizens be allowed to challenge the findings. Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-Wash.), who chaired a 20-member NEPA task force, voiced the common litany of complaints levied by NEPA opponents, saying that it’s caused “delays, excessive paperwork, and lawsuits.” Environmentalists point out that while some 50,000 government environmental reviews are conducted each year, only 0.2 percent are challenged in lawsuits. Enviros worry that the House recommendations are worded so vaguely they could be used to help gut the act, which is considered a cornerstone of U.S. environmental law.