Earlier this month, the Trump Administration proposed changes to fundamental environmental rules. The National Environmental Policy Act has been in place since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1970.
But in recent years, some people have questioned whether some elements of NEPA go too far, holding back industries like ranching and mining.
“Like most laws, it could probably use rethinking, but our partisan politics just don’t create an opportunity for that kind of intelligent discussion,” says Boise State University distinguished professor John Freemuth.
Freemuth — who is the Cecil D. Andrus Endowed Chair for Environment and Public Lands at Boise State — says the effort by the Trump Administration to change this law is one example of many to strategically “end the environmental era in some ways.”
Reporter Nate Hegyi with the Mountain West News Bureau in Salt Lake City says one group that’s happy about the proposal is ranchers.
“Many ranchers graze their cattle on federally managed public lands,” he told Idaho Matters by Skype. “And they often have to go through these NEPA processes to renew their grazing permits, get fencing up, haul water. And that process can take a really long time they say. Sometimes four or five years. And so what these new rules do is they drastically speed up that process.”
So what’s next up for the proposal? A public comment period which ends March 10, 2020.
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