Duchesne County Commissioners Push For NEPA Regulation Revisions
By Kristin Forbis, Nov 23, 2021
The Duchesne County Commissioners have submitted a thorough letter to the Council on Environmental Quality urging for reform to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Commissioners stated support for the efforts for NEPA reform under the Trump Administration that was not allowed to go into effect. “Change is needed to facilitate construction of needed infrastructure projects and land management projects,” shares the Commissioners, “such as range improvements and vegetation management necessary to improve wildlife habitat and reduce fuel loads that lead to uncharacteristic wildfires. The NEPA process is broken and invites litigation due to the vague terms and ever-shifting standards of analysis arising from court decisions.” The Commissioners further state that it is “common knowledge among federal agency personnel and NEPA practitioners and there is plenty of evidence that NEPA documents take too long and cost too much to prepare because agencies are trying to ‘bullet proof’ them against the inevitable legal challenges from those who oppose the proposed project.” On this point the Commissioners continue that “there is plenty of evidence that the 1978 rule is enabling gridlock in environmental review and has created an industry of litigants, who are profiting at the expense of the public interest. It was no surprise that many of the commenters during the October 19th, and October 21st, 2021 public meetings were environmental attorneys. Suing federal government agencies and other agencies using federal funds to implement projects is their livelihood and the longstanding NEPA rules give them plenty of ammunition to do so.” The letter includes a long list of evidence and citizen examples supporting their position.