White House Task Force Proposes Alterations to NEPA

One of the nation’s most important environmental laws could be fundamentally altered, if suggestions from a White House task force are implemented. A panel of the Council on Environmental Quality yesterday proposed dozens of changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a 1970 law that requires all major federal projects to be reviewed for their potential ecological impact. Industry groups have long complained that the environmental assessments and impact statements mandated by NEPA are too time-consuming, and the Bush administration has sought to change the law, for example by trying to eliminate assessments for some logging, highway building, airport construction, and energy exploration. Environmentalists support some of the task force recommendations — including improving implementation of NEPA through new technology and better information management — but oppose categorical exemptions to the law.