January 27, 2023

NEPA: An Environmental Law Subverted

Press Release from the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources:

*Editor’s Note* – These are the kinds of press releases designed to deliberately mislead. The wording is chosen such that some will think that good changes will happen to environmental fascism. However, few look beyond such worthless press releases for the actual wording of proposed and passed laws. What will this farce bring?

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 29, 2017 –

Today, the Full Committee held an oversight hearing to discuss improving and modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The panel discussed deficiencies in NEPA’s implementation and potential legislative improvements to enable the law to best serve its intended purpose.

“In 1969, NEPA was originally designed as a tool to assess the impacts of government actions on the environment. Unfortunately, today it has become a sweeping regulatory framework that does the exact opposite,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated.

“We can both better protect the environment and allow for thorough review and processing of critical economic, energy and infrastructure activities in a timely manner. These concepts are not mutually exclusive.  But it simply won’t happen unless Congress acts to clarify NEPA’s intent, scope and limitations,” Bishop added. 

Witness Philip Howard, Chairman of Common Good, noted that prolonged environmental reviews on a range of NEPA projects negatively impact the environment, a contradiction of NEPA’s original intent. He cited NEPA-related permitting delays in rebuilding the nation’s highway infrastructure resulting in an extra 51 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“These delays are costly and, often, environmentally destructive,” Howard said.

Howard lauded NEPA’s original environmental objectives. The goals, however, “have been subverted by a process that takes years and ends up interfering with important projects instead of promoting better projects.”

Witness James Willox, Wyoming County Commissioners Association Member, reiterated the disconnect between NEPA’s intent and the statute’s implementation.

“What was once a helpful look at proposed actions has metastasized into a grotesque perversion of Congressional intent whereby agency officials are forced into years of analysis and reams of paper designed to fend off litigation instead of making sound, informed policy decisions,” Willox said.

“NEPA itself was never intended to be an obstructionist part of our infrastructure nor building of any other thing. But it has been used as that,” Rep. Don Young (R-AK) stated. “NEPA should not be used to slow down and impede development because it does not protect the environment. And that’s really what we should be talking about.”

Witness Mike Bridges, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Board Member, echoed the same concerns, emphasizing the law’s negative economic impacts.

The seemingly endless and arbitrary regulatory process in Washington State will discourage future projects that would employ members of the Building Trades and my community,” Bridges said.

Members and the panel discussed changes to the law including increasing the role of counties and local governments, fast-tracking the permitting of projects, and avoiding duplicative environmental analyses.

Counties in Wyoming and across the West are ready and willing to assist in the goal of modernizing NEPA to ensure that it continues to work for the benefit of decision-makers,” Willox said.

Click here to view full witness testimony.


Hearing Focuses on Bills to Protect Property Rights, Increase Federal Transparency

Press Release from the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: (I added a link and copy of H.R. 1830 the Water Rights Protection Act)

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18, 2017

Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on two bills to increase federal transparency, safeguard private and state water rights, and provide certainty to water and power users.

The “Water Rights Protection Act” discussion draft (Rep. Scott Tipton, R-CO) protects state water law and private property rights from future federal takings.

Private water rights holders should not live in fear of the federal government coming after them. Mr. Tipton’s bill is necessary to ensure that privately held water rights cannot be extracted by the federal government in the future as a condition to secure a federal permit,Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said.

Over many decades, federal attempts to manipulate the federal permit, lease and land management process to circumvent long-established state water law and hijack privately-held water rights have sounded the alarm for all non-federal water users that rely on these water rights for their livelihood. The Water Rights Protection Act is commonsense legislation that provides certainty by upholding longstanding federal deference to state water law,Rep. Tipton stated.

Vice President of the Utah Farm Bureau Randy Parker discussed the water rights issues he sees on the ground everyday as the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “systematically challeng[e] state sovereignty and historically held water rights on public lands.”

The ongoing protests, claims, coercion and even bullying by agents of the FS and the BLM has created and continues to cause considerable uncertainty for ranching families across the West,” Parker said.

Chris Treese, Manager for External Affairs at the Colorado River Water Conservation District, urged swift passage of the “Water Rights Protection Act” to avoid the inevitable downward spiral of litigation.

Unless the FS commits to respecting Western states’ individual water rights adjudication systems to accomplish its flow-related goals, the only sure outcome is contentious, lengthy and expensive litigation. This is a result in no one’s interest, including the environment,” Treese stated.

H.R. 2371 (Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZ), the “Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act,” establishes a pilot project to increase the transparency of the Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) costs, rates, and other financial and operational dealings for utility ratepayers and taxpayers. Patrick Ledger, CEO of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, welcomed the transparency and accountability promoted by this bill in light of the recent trend of increased utility rates.

With better information broken down in key components – and with a historical perspective – customers can have a better dialogue with [WAPA],” Ledger said.This is perhaps the most fundamental benefit that the transparency legislation offers.”

Click here to view full witness testimony.

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Obama Takes Three More National Monuments

Press Release from House Committee on Natural Resources:

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2015 – House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) released the following statement after President Obama announced his intentions to unilaterally proclaim three new national monuments using the Antiquities Act of 1906.

“President Obama has sidelined the American public and bulldozed transparency by proclaiming three new national monuments through executive fiat. The Obama Administration claims these designations have public support, but we know that is a complete stretch of the truth. The cost to taxpayers is anyone’s guess and the impacts upon local communities are unknown. Congress has demonstrated that it can work in a collaborative fashion to fully vet and approve designations that have support from the public and their elected representatives. This White House has shown once again its utter and complete disdain for the public process, Congress, and the communities most impacted by these unilateral, unchecked land designations.”

The President’s designations include Pullman Historic District in Chicago, Illinois, Browns Canyon in Salida, Colorado, and the site of a World War II-era internment camp in Honouliuli, Hawaii, and will be formally announced on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), stated: “Despite his calls to be the most transparent administration in history, President Obama has once again chosen to stifle public input and thumb his nose at Congress. Top-down, big government approaches and land grabs through executive order disenfranchise concerned citizens, and that’s exactly what happened in the Browns Canyon region. During my time in Congress, I have heard from hundreds of locals who don’t want to see Browns Canyon declared a National Monument. The President’s unilateral designation of Browns Canyon casts aside the concerns raised by local citizens whose concerns about grazing rights, water rights, and the inability to manage and fight wildfire in the area that will now never be satisfactorily addressed. People must realize that national monuments created by Presidential executive order under the Antiquities Act often become underfunded and neglected orphan properties. This is because they are created outside the normal Congressional process and without local consensus, robbing the people of fair and open input. Browns Canyon does not deserve this kind of second-class status.”