Comment period extended to Aug 26. at 11:59 PM EST
Forest Service changes in their environmental review process with NEPA would be a fast track to clear cutting, omitting public comments, and has many tribal and environmental groups reaching out to the public to take action and submit a comment.
In the current Administration, we are understandably skeptical of these sweeping and benign claims. Any gains in efficiency should not come at a cost to public involvement or conservation of natural resources, including tribal involvement and cultural resources.The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
In addition to asking to strength tribal consultation, you can also use the following to help draft your comments:
- Keep all opportunities for public comment on proposed projects.
- Don’t allow new projects to be “piggybacked” on the environmental review process for an older project. Make each project have a full environmental review.
- Don’t add more categorical exclusions, because it would allow more projects to happen without environmental review.
- Keep all protections for larger projects, and don’t shorten the timeline for environmental review.
- Don’t shorten Environmental Assessments (EAs) or allow them to be less complete.
- Environmental Impact Statements should be done for all mining projects, including all expansions of existing mining projects, not just for expansions of more than 640 acres.
Please review NATHPO’s comment letter for additional information. Feel free to use any or all of the text in your own comments through the Federal Register and any letters you may send to USFS leadership. We suggest sending to the following leaders (email addresses embedded):
NEPA was signed into law by President Nixon and has long been used to guide environmental policy and public engagement in federal land management. NEPA was first enacted to “declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.” … read more
Many of the changes in the proposed rule are based on adding or expanding existing categorical exclusions. Categorical Exclusions (CEs) are a list of activities that agencies have determined, from analysis and experience, to not have significant environmental impact and, therefore, do not to require extensive environmental analysis.
On average, an environmental assessment takes 687 days to complete. Average time to complete a CE takes just 206 days. By using the new CEs in the proposed rule, the Forest Service could potentially complete analysis between 30 and 480 days earlier on applicable projects. These figures represent the amount of time from when the analysis starts to its completion.
How to comment – Deadline is Aug. 26, 2019
On June 13, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Agency) published a proposed rule to revise its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The Agency is extending the comment period on the proposed rule, which was scheduled to close on August 12, 2019, for 14 days until August 26, 2019.
The comment period for the proposed rule published June 13, 2019, at 84 FR 27544, is extended. Comments must be received in writing by August 26, 2019.
Please submit comments via one of the following methods:
1. Public participation portal (preferred): https://www.regulations.gov/.
2. Mail: NEPA Services Group, c/o Amy Barker; USDA Forest Service, 125 South State Street, Suite 1705, Salt Lake City, UT 84138.
3. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All comments, including names and addresses when provided, are placed in the record and are available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments received online via the public reading room at https://www.regulations.gov/.
The proposed rule and supporting information is available at https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/revisions/index.shtml.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Christine Dawe; Director, Ecosystem Management Coordination; 406-370-8865. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.
Dated: August 6, 2019.
Christopher B. French,
Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
[FR Doc. 2019-17071 Filed 8-8-19; 8:45 am]
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