Senate Committee Looking At Shortening Public Comment Period For Environmental Impacts

Sep 6, 2018

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A senate 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 fifty years.  It’s the law that mandates a public comment period before any big project, like a new highway or a dam.

NEPA reviews currently take around 3 to 5 years. President Trump wants that process cut down to 2 years or less.

“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,” said Wyoming rancher Neil Hansen.

But Sally Hardin with the progressive organization Center for American Progress said 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,” she said.

Putting staff in the right places is also key, said Hardin.

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.