Thursday, September 22, 2005

Former CEQ chiefs battle with NEPA Taskforce

  Eight former Chairs of the Council on Environmental Quality [Train, Peterson, Busterud, Warren, Speth, Deland, McGinty, and Frampton] along with two former General Counsels [Widman and Yost] have quietly taken exception to the NEPA bashing being done in Congress.  The eight  served in both Republican and Democratic administrations and have collectively served more than 30 years in those key CEQ positions.  They wrote September 19th to the House Committee on Resources NEPA Taskforce, eloquently defending NEPA. (HT to Scott Schang, ELI) nepa letter - full text.txt   The letter concisely summarized how key features of NEPA contribute to responsible government:

"First, consideration of the impacts of proposed government actions on the qualityof the human environment is essential to responsible government decision-making. Government projects and programs have effects on the environment with important consequences for every American, and those impacts should be carefully weighed by public officials before taking action. Environmental impact analysis is thus not an impediment to responsible government action; it is a prerequisite for it.

Second, analysis of alternatives to an agencys proposed course of action is the heart of meaningful environmental review. Review of reasonable alternatives allows agencies to evaluate systematically the potential effects of their decisions and to assess how they can better protect the environment while still fully implementing their primary missions.

Third, the public plays an indispensable role in the NEPA process. Publi ccomments inform agencies of environmental impacts that they may have misunderstood or failed to recognize, and often provide valuable insights for reshaping proposed projects to minimize their adverse environmental effects. The public also serves as a watchdog, ensuring that Federal agencies fulfill their responsibilities under the law. Public participation under NEPA supports the democratic process by allowing citizens to communicate with and influence government actions that directly affect their health and well-being."

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