Undermining environmental law
- The New York Times
September 30, 2002
Undermining Environmental Law
On issues large and small, the Bush administration has spent the better part of two years rolling back Bill Clinton's environmental legacy. It has abandoned the Kyoto accord on global warming, weakened protections for wetlands and eased mining laws. Now it appears to be aiming at even bigger game - the National Environmental Policy Act, regarded as the Magna Carta of environmental protection and perhaps the most important of all the environmental statutes signed into law by Richard Nixon three decades ago.
The act, NEPA for short, is no stranger to controversy. Bureaucrats blame it for gridlock, commercial interests for blocking progress. Environmentalists, of course, love it, as well they should.
The act is essentially a sunshine law. It requires all federal agencies to make a detailed assessment of the consequences of any project likely to have a significant impact on the environment, and make that assessment available for comment from the public and other federal agencies. The law does not mandate particular outcomes. Its purpose is to keep federal agencies from doing destructive things - clear-cutting forests, straightening rivers, destroying wildlife in the name of development - under cover of darkness. And over the years it has done a world of good.
[A] White House task force is working on ways to "enhance" the act by streamlining it. That sounds innocent enough, but based on the administration's behavior so far, some fear that the real intent is not to streamline the process but to circumvent it, perhaps by executive order. Congress, which wrote this law 33 years ago, must be alert to any effort to undermine it.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- It is wonderful to read the things you say. We are so much better
off to be rid of the stupid laws that are on the books. Bill
Clinton's legacy let much to be desired especially on environmental
issues. Global warming and clear-cutting are my hot buttons but, as
the article points out, allows the more obstructive elements of our
society (eg. Sierra Club et al) easy machinery to do their dirty work.