To: All Activists
From: Lisa Dix, American Lands Alliance
Date: March 31, 2005
New Plan to Raze NEPA Moves Forward
Next week (week of April 4, 2005) Richard Pombo (R-CA) and other pro-industry members of Congress will unveil their plan to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of America's bedrock environmental laws. In an attempt to soften their message and appear "balanced" and "reasonable," Pombo and key leaders of the House Resources Committee will publicly claim that they intend to "streamline" and "modernize" the Act. The fact of the matter is that this group of legislators has an ambitious agenda to get rid of the most important components of NEPA and to make sure Americans will no longer be able to participate in decisions that impact us and the air, land and water that we, and future generations, depend on. Industry, developers and polluters are lining up and are organized already to support this effort.
Pombo and company will launch their campaign from an economic angle. Simply put, that NEPA is costing too much. They will claim that NEPA has crippled state economies and harmed the "common man," but the fact of the matter is NEPA has saved Americans innumerable tax dollars in environmental destruction clean up costs and burdens. And as we have heard many times before, Pombo and company will argue that NEPA is tying up the courts due to litigation by "environmental extremists" and preventing "reasonable" projects from moving forward.
Pombo's Plan To Get Rid of NEPA
1. Goals of Pombo's campaign: (a) Directing CEQ to promulgate clarifying regulations, (b) Amending NEPA, (c) Get State NEPA's to ease permitting requirements. In the short term it looks like the strategy is to gut the existing CEQ regulations until legislation is passed. Simultaneously, it appears there will be a state-wide strategy aimed at Governors and State Legislatures to gut State NEPAs (such as in California and Montana and others). Transportation, Forests, Public Lands, and Energy issues will be the primary areas of political focus.
2. Next week the "NEPA Task Force, " chaired by Eastern Washington Representative Cathy McMorris (R) will be launched. The Task Force will create recommendations based on hearings in order to change existing NEPA regulations and move forward with amending NEPA in 2006. The report, with recommendations, has a target release date of September 30, 2005. The press drumbeat will begin at the Task Force launch and a full two-year press strategy that continuously hammers on the Act will be employed.
3. Six "hearings" across the country will be organized. The organizers' goal is to focus on how NEPA has "crippled state economies," "impacted jobs" and other "inequities." The hearings will have 2 panels with 5 witnesses on each panel. So far, the organizers have invited state officials and industry representatives and others such as farmers and ranchers "impacted by the Act." It looks like the environmental community has not been contacted at this time.
4. The hearing schedule has not totally been set but here is what we know:
Spokane, WA: April 23
Bakersfield, CA: TBA
Huston, TX: TBA
One hearing is to be scheduled in the Carolina's, one in the Intermountain West and one in the Mid-Atlantic
We will keep you all up to date when we hear any other new developments or to update about the anti-NEPA campaign moving forward. For any questions, contact Lisa Dix, American Lands Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Forest Program Director
American Lands Alliance
Ph: 202-547-9105; Fax: 202-547-9213
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