A congressional committee is focusing on a little known environmental law Thursday.
The National Environmental Policy Act isn’t as well known as the Endangered Species or Clean Water Acts but it’s been around for almost 50 years. It’s the law that mandates a public comment period before any big project goes through, like a new highway or a dam.
NEPA reviews currently take around three to five years. President Trump wants that process cut down to two years or less. Wyoming rancher Neils Hansen likes that idea.
“Congress can go in and get some clarification language in there that gives the agencies an opportunity to take a common sense look at a project and pass it through,” says Hansen.
But according to Sally Hardin with the Center for American Progress, the real problem is a lack of resources.
“The administration has the tools that it needs to streamline the environmental review and to make environmental review faster, and now it’s just a question of providing the correct amount of funding,” says Hardin. “Unfortunately if there’s no investment in those tools … the administration is going to continue complaining about permitting delays as a result of environmental review, which is an easy scapegoat.”
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
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This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.