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NEPA, or National Environmental Policy Act, is the law dictating environmental review for any activity having a Federal "nexus" (e.g. federal money or public lands).  Whenever there's an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), it's done pursuant to NEPA.  Richard Pombo's House Resources Committee has been working on a rework of same.  For some time now, its NEPA Task Force has been touring the country, gathering ideas how to change it.  With Pombo in charge of Resources, it can't be good news.  It's still in the "factfinding" stage, so there's no text to respond to yet.  There's something to look forward to!  Yipes!!  This effort is chaired by Cathy McMorris (R-WA).  (Project Vote-Smart link.)  This diary contains a call for comments, which have to be submitted by Wednesday, November 23 to be included in the record.  (The day after tomorrow.)

Following is an article from American Lands Alliance, who have been watchdogging this process.  Or should I say, travesty?  They do a good job, so there's no reason to rewrite.  Following the article is the full roster of the House Resources Committee.  You'll see there's some world-class trolls on the committee.

Congressional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Task Force, chaired by Eastern Washington Representative Cathy McMorris (R), held their final wrap up hearing in Washington, D.C.   A report of their findings is slated for November 30, 2005.  Though the NEPA Task Force claims to have heard mostly from interests supporting changes to NEPA during the field hearings, they were met by strong support for the landmark environmental law and were told by witnesses, as well as by 10 former Chairs of the Council on Environmental Quality, that the National Environmental Policy Act did not need legislative change.  Unfortunately the Task Force has largely ignored this viewpoint, as well as largely ignoring the people most acquainted with NEPA's implementation--those men and women who work in federal agencies responsible for complying with the act.

Despite the support NEPA enjoys and even though the Task Force has not officially wrapped up, nor have their findings been formally presented, legislation to change NEPA is expected soon.  Nowhere is the expectation greater than within the oil and gas industry which on the morning the final hearing hosted an event with Representative Cathy McMorris (R-WA) titled "UPDATING NEPA: the legislative work begins."

To see the corporations behind the rewrite of NEPA, Click Here where you can download a PDF.  

The NEPA Task Force Needs to Hear from You!

Throughout the field hearings, Representatives McMorris, Pombo and others have publicly stated that they intend to seek legislative changes to our bedrock environmental law, weakening both NEPA and the rights the public currently enjoys under it, despite previous statements that the Task Force was going to listen to input from around the country before deciding what, if any recommendation they would make.

It is vital that we continue to build the public record in support of NEPA and public participation in federal decision making.  Please use the sample letter and talking points below to create your own unique comments to be entered into the record for the hearing.

Comments Needed by November 23rd (which is to say, day after tomorrow, following November 17 hearing)

Use the sample letter below to comment on the importance of NEPA.  Send your letter to: (or fax to 202-225-5929) and send a copy of your comments to

Please also send a copy of your comments to your Representative/Senators, so they know that this issue is important to you. Go to to look up your Members of Congress.

In your comments, explain why NEPA is important to you. You are encouraged to include specific examples of how public participation in the NEPA process provided critical input to protect human health, the quality of life of your community, and the environment, and how the choice of alternatives led to informed decision-making and improved projects.


To:  House Resource Committee NEPA Task Force  

Please enter these comments into the record for the NEPA Task Force Hearing on November 17, 2005.  I hope my comments about the importance of the National Environmental Policy Act are reflected in your final report.

At its most basic level NEPA is about having an informed democracy.  It is the primary law that gives me a voice in decisions made by my government that could harm the air I breathe, the water I drink and the bountiful public lands that make up our American heritage. NEPA is also the guarantee that Americans affected by a major federal action will get the best information about its impacts on our community, a choice of good design alternatives to minimize damage, and the right to have our voice heard before the government makes a final decision. NEPA ensures balance, common sense and openness in federal decision-making; it is an effective tool to keep 'Big Government' in check.

NEPA protects and empowers the public.  It makes sure the local community is not left out of decisions, and it requires the Government to base these decisions on good information. Maintaining and strengthening the community's voice in decisions on federal projects is critical to making wise choices that enhance the quality of life in our communities.

At the heart of NEPA is its requirement that alternatives must be considered - including alternatives that will minimize possible damage to our health, communities, environment, and our quality of life. Comparing and seeking input on the merits of several alternatives is a core requirement of NEPA. It is the mechanism that forces federal agencies to think outside of the box when approaching projects that may harm our environment or public health.  

By making sure that the public is informed and that alternatives are considered, NEPA has stopped some unwise and harmful projects and made countless projects better. Cutting corners on NEPA review can have disastrous consequences for my community and the environment.  NEPA makes sure we look before we leap, and any attempts to weaken it will take away our safety net.

Putting limits on public involvement and our right to challenge harmful projects or reducing adequate review of major projects won't avoid controversy or improve projects.  NEPA saves time and money in the long run by reducing controversy, building consensus, and ensuring that a project is done right the first time.

Rather than making changes to the NEPA or its regulations, I urge you to ensure that the federal agencies responsible for implementing the law get the resources they need to do the job right and in a timely manner.




NEPA - Democracy in Action

The National Environmental Policy Act is the most important environmental law that most Americans have never heard of.  Signed into law in 1973, it requires the government to "look before it leaps."  Major federal projects must be reviewed for the environmental and public health impacts.  If the damage will be significant, alternative designs must be investigated to minimize damage and these options must be shared with the public.  California Congressman Richard Pombo will use the NEPA hearings to build a negative public record against NEPA and introduce legislation to overhaul it.  We need your help to protect NEPA, so NEPA can continue to protect our communities.

Click here to read about the NEPA Task Force.  More information on NEPA from Sierra Club.

For fact sheets and reports about NEPA, go to:

Key Points for Comments

  • NEPA is the guarantee that Americans affected by a federal action will get the best information about its impacts, a choice of good alternatives, and the right to have their voice heard before the government makes a final decision.
  • NEPA ensures balance, common sense and openness in federal decision-making, it is an effective tool to keep `Big Government' in check.
  • At the heart of NEPA is its requirement that alternatives must be considered - including those that will minimize possible damage to our health, environment or quality of life. NEPA also lets Americans have a say before the government makes its final decision about a project.
  • By making sure that the public is informed and that alternatives are considered, NEPA has stopped some damaging projects or made them better.
  • Cutting corners can have disastrous consequences, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer money on projects that might harm citizens or their environment.
  • There is no need to improve NEPA...because it works.
  • Limiting public involvement and weakening environmental review won't avoid controversy or improve projects.
  • NEPA saves time and money in the long run by reducing controversy, building consensus, and ensuring that a project is done right the first time.
  • NEPA's promise of project review and public involvement must be safeguarded, not sacrificed in the name of speed.

For more information contact:  Anne Martin, American Lands Alliance,, 509-624-5657.

End of American Lands article.  On to:

House Resources Committee  Majority (Republicans) in ordinary text, Minority/Democrats in italics.  See also the committee's web page where you can link to each member's official webpage:

Richard W. Pombo, California, Chairman
Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia, Ranking Democrat Member

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii   
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam
Dan Boren, Oklahoma
Henry Brown, South Carolina
Ken Calvert, California
Chris Cannon, Utah
Dennis Cardoza, California
Donna M. Christensen, Virgin Islands
Jim Costa, California
Barbara Cubin, Wyoming    
Peter DeFazio, Oregon
Thelma Drake, Virginia
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Jeff Flake, Arizona
Luis Fortuno, Puerto Rico
Elton Gallegly, California
Jim Gibbons, Nevada
Wayne T. Gilchrest, Maryland
Louie Gohmert, Texas
Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona
J.D. Hayworth, Arizona
Stephanie Herseth, South Dakota
Jay Inslee, Washington
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana
Walter B. Jones, Jr., North Carolina
Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Ron Kind, Wisconsin
Ed Markey, Massachusetts
Cathy McMorris, Washington
Charlie Melancon, Louisiana
George Miller, California
Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado
Grace F. Napolitano, California
Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas
Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey
Stevan Pearce, New Mexico
John E. Peterson, Pennsylvania
George P. Radanovich, California
Rick Renzi, Arizona
Jim Saxton, New Jersey
Thomas G. Tancredo, Colorado
Mark Udall, Colorado
Tom Udall, New Mexico
Greg Walden, Oregon
Don Young, Alaska

Finally, a picture of Rep. McMorris, then a map of her district.

Previous diaries in this series:
The Great Pombo Public Lands Giveaway
Vine Deloria, Jr. - You Will Be Missed
Pombo Amendment - What the Press is Saying
All That Glitters -- w/Poll
Budget Reconciliation Passes with Pombo intact

Originally posted to Land of Enchantment on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:29 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Incredible Diary (none)
    I don't think many people realize just how important this is.

    Highly recommended Diary

    Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

    by Irrelevant Prolixity on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:33:13 PM PST

    •  The environment is a core Democratic issue (none)
      Those who don't see that are blowing a big opportunity.  I don't understand the generally low level of interest in environmental topics on dKos.  Maybe people who spend a lot of time at their computers are oblivious to the non-virtual world?

      I'm grateful to Bill Maher, who mentions it with some regularity.

    •  If this passes (none)
      this will have a lasting NEGATIVE impact on Americans' ability to hold their own government accountable.

      NEPA actually requires the feds to RESPOND to citizens and local governments who suggest reasonable alternatives or point out issues that have been overlooked or misjudged. The government can't say "THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT, NOW GET LOST."

  •  So this.. Pombo No. 5 (none)

    A little Cathy Morris in my life...

    (now... who got this joke? Bueller?  Anyone?)

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 01:50:21 PM PST

  •  I sent in comments (none)
    when Pombo's circus came to my home area.

    NEPA is huge. Many times when the courts rule with environmentalists, they are ruling based on NEPA, so naturally Pombo wants to gut it, to elimiate the lawsuits which force the government and corporations to act responsibly.

    Weakening this law is a key to the GOP's attempt to silence conservationists and environmentalists.

  •  Random Additions (none)
    Thursday, November 17, 2005


    Potential wilderness in Colo. included in BLM lease sale

    The Bureau of Land Management last week leased thousands of acres of federal land in Colorado that it once identified as potential wilderness, prompting both administrative and court challenges from environmental groups.

    In its most recent quarterly lease sale on Nov. 10, BLM leased 72,000 acres of public land throughout Colorado to energy companies, including about 21,000 acres in the South Shale Ridge area near DeBeque, 210 miles west of Denver.....

    Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the Senate Energy Committee's top Democrat, is urging the House of Representatives to drop consideration of controversial mining provisions from its budget reconciliation package.  The legislation, as we well know, would open up millions of acres of public lands - including national parks, wilderness areas and national forests - for sale to mining interests.  The language is included in the Budget reconciliation bill which the House is expected to consider as early as today.

    Mining Law Provisions
    House Reconciliation Bill

    "The Budget Reconciliation bill before the House would amend the Mining Law of 1872 in a manner contrary to good public policy.  If enacted, it would result in a deeply troubling outcome - a fire sale of valuable Federal lands, adverse impacts on national parks, forests and other public lands, and new, ambiguous legal standards and requirements that will have far-reaching negative consequences.  I hope that the House does not adopt these ill-conceived provisions, and if this bill reaches conference, I will work to keep them out of the final Reconciliation bill."


    Energy companies commandeer land


    Ranchers and landowners throughout the Powder River Basin should be tipping their hats to Steve Adami of Buffalo. By asking that Kennedy Oil be required to show some higher public benefit and an overriding need to condemn a long strip of his ranchland, Adami is striking a powerful and long overdue blow for property rights (Casper Star-Tribune article, "Landowner group takes on eminent domain," by Dustin Bleizeffer).

    As my neighbors and I have learned all too well over the past few years, coal-bed methane companies see the ability to condemn our lands as just another tool in their kit. It is not. Exercising the power of eminent domain is a taking of property, and this power should be used sparingly and only at greatest need.

    It's even worse when this power is exploited by private companies. If a county or city abuses its eminent domain authority, voters can fire the offending officials in the next election. But Adami and the rest of us landowners have no leverage whatsoever over John Kennedy, owner of Kennedy Oil, when he condemns our land just to cut his costs.

    Right now, Wyoming's eminent domain laws are stacked against Adami, my neighbors and me. But just because something is legal doesn't make it right, fair or just. Adami is fighting the good fight, but he needs our support -- and he needs the help of the Legislature.

    Ask your legislators to do the right thing, for Steve Adami, for other landowners and for every citizen of Wyoming who believes in private property rights. Ask them to rein in the power of private entities to condemn another's property, before someone decides to condemn yours.


    -9.0,-5.54 A real soldier died in his Hummer so you could play soldier in yours.

    by environmentalist on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 02:32:34 PM PST

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