For the first time in more than 40 years, the Council on Environmental Quality announced guidelines to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a program requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed actions in order to promote better decision-making by the federal government.
Currently, the average length of an environmental impact statement is more than 600 pages, and the average time for federal agencies to complete NEPA reviews is four and a half years.
NEPA requirements apply to a broad range of actions ranging from the construction of roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines, conventional and renewable energy projects, broadband deployment, and water infrastructure to management of activities on federal lands, such as grazing, forest management and wildfire protection to environmental restoration and other projects.
Goals of the revision include simplifying environmental reviews, reducing frivolous litigation, removing government bureaucracy and cutting red tape to speed up the timelines of various projects.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provides funding for a wide range of habitat enhancement work including prescribed burning, forest thinning, invasive weed treatment and other projects. NEPA is often cited by environmental groups that file lawsuits to stop or alter such conservation work that benefits elk and other wildlife.
RMEF provided comment in support of several provisions to fine-tune the process.
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(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)