If you didn’t know it already, you have a legal right to know about and weigh in on federal government projects before any action is taken. Those rights are protected by the first bedrock piece of environmental legislation - a law called the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
NEPA has three main components:
1) It promotes transparency by requiring that plans for federal projects be released to the public,
2) It promotes informed decision-making through requiring detailed studies on environmental impacts and alternatives, and
3) It gives the public a voice on these projects through public hearings and comment periods.
It’s all important, but that last piece is vital. Because of NEPA, citizens have the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about plans that will impact the environment and their communities, and then hold their government accountable. That period of public review also takes time and shines sunlight on consequences, whether unintended or otherwise. And that’s essential to stopping dangerous, rushed or poorly planned projects.
NEPA requirements don’t just force the truth to come out, they allow time for movements to be built before projects are underway. They allow time for organizing and for media to be drawn in to alert the broader public and win the public relations war against giant companies. Think of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Think of Keystone XL. NEPA made it possible for these projects to become household names and public battles instead of inevitable… and that is, of course, why NEPA is under attack.
A NEPA repeal would be incredibly difficult and unpopular, so instead conservatives are trying to chip away at it bit by bit. In a Heritage Foundation report last year, the organization wrote about their plans to “pave the way to rescission” of NEPA by introducing legislation that narrows NEPA reviews, mandates time limits, limits alternatives, and eliminates consideration of - you guessed it - green house gases and climate change.
In the last two Congresses, over one hundred and fifty bills were introduced that weakened or waived NEPA. Now, in the current Congress, there are already over fifty introduced bills that would limit or eliminate public input, government accountability, and environmental review of federal projects. Several of these bills have passed or are likely to pass soon.
We will all lose if NEPA is damaged or destroyed. But low-income communities, indigenous communities and communities of color, which face environmental injustice every day, will lose a critical tool in their fight to protect their health, economy and environment. For 40 years, NEPA has given a voice to people who would otherwise be shut out of the process, but that could change unless you get involved today with the NEPA Works campaign.
Go to NEPAWorks.wpengine.com. There you will find details on the history and importance of NEPA, as well as a complete list of categorized legislative threats to this critical law in the House and Senate. Your next step is to call Congress and spread the word about the ulterior motive within these bills. You can also read and share success stories from every single state where NEPA requirements have quite literally saved the day. The things companies have tried to get away with will shock you.
Follow the campaign on Twitter @ProtectNEPA and join other environmental action groups in using the hashtags #ProtectNEPA and #ProtectOurVoice while shining a light on this subversive Republican plan. The NEPA Works campaign is just getting off the ground and so we encourage you to get involved now and keep checking in to see what else you can do to help.
If only there was a NEPA to help us defend the NEPA…
So, if fighting for your right to protect your health, family, community and environment is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Protecting NEPA via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.
Get involved with the NEPA Works campaign to protect your voice!
Read and share NEPA success stories from every state
Follow NEPA Works on Twitter @ProtectNEPA
We will not be silenced. Stand up for a strong NEPA! (Earth Justice)
Trump CEQ rolls out plans for swift NEPA reviews (Governors' Wind & Solar Energy Coalition)
Christine Todd Whitman: How Not to Run the E.P.A. (New York Times)
Posted September 19, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman
Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1134: Unnatural Disasters (Hurricane & the Climate)