Letter: Recent proposal to cripple NEPA won’t be the Trump administration’s last
Bravo to Rachel Richards for her informative op-ed on the importance of preserving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the need to safeguard scientific analysis and public participation in decisions that impact our public lands (“Don’t gut NEPA provisions for local voices to be heard,” Post Independent, Aug. 27).
The recently proposed rule changes to how the Forest Service implements NEPA are not this administration’s first attempt to gut the “gold standard” of environmental laws. I recall organizing pushback to an onslaught of bills and administrative changes churning out of Washington, which were aimed at undermining NEPA and privatizing public lands, as early as two years ago, when I was still a newcomer to public lands advocacy.
Unsurprisingly, these attempts have not lessened, but rather grown more sophisticated and numerous, as privatization and development of the nation’s public lands continues to be a top priority for this administration and its anti-public lands cronies in Congress. This recent proposal to cripple NEPA won’t be the last, making it all the more important for the public and local governments to remain vigilant and push back when necessary, by submitting comments to public land managers and writing and calling our elected officials.
Unfortunately, this administration is not a friend of public lands and it is determined to sell them off through any available avenue, including undercutting scientific analysis and public process. Even more unfortunately, it’s communities like ours and so many across the west that rely heavily on the clean air, water and ecological diversity of our public lands for the vitality of our recreation, tourism and agricultural economies, who stand to lose the most.
I applaud our local governments, including several towns and counties in and around the Roaring Fork Valley for submitting comments during this past period. In effect, their diligence and leadership keeps all of our voices at the table in the decision-making process, even for private citizens who were unable to comment. Wilderness Workshop and many other organizations also filed technical comments in opposition to the current rollback, just as we have done with previous attempts. We’ll continue to be a watchdog, and we hope our local governments, friends, neighbors and colleagues will too.
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