Following up on my recent "rant" about the I-495 & I-270 Environmental Impact Statement, below is a link to a Washington Post article describing how the proposed Pebble Creek Gold Mine in Alaska has been "fast tracked" by the Trump Administration. This project is like the Freddy Krueger of environmental catastrophes. The Obama EPA had, for all intents and purposes, put an end to it. Well, it's back!!!! And if Trump is reelected it will happen, as well as every other mining project, pipeline or highway project any venture capitalist ever dreamed of.
At the heart of my dismay is the present administration's proposed dismantling of the most venerable and foundational environmental law: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires the federal government to consider the "environmental impact" of any project which receives federal funding. Over the 50 some years since its enactment, a significant body of regulatory case law has evolved establishing limits on development. The tide has gone back and forth between Republican and Democratic administrations but there has always been a requirement that the decisions be supported by data. If Trump's proposed "streamlining" of the regulations goes through, the "environmental impact" determination will be in the "eye of the beholder."
I am not exaggerating here, environmental protection in this country will go the way of the Amazon rainforest under Brazilian President Bolsonaro, or air quality in Iraq when Saddam Hussein set fire to the oil wells, or so many avoidable CoronaVirus fatalities today. Policy decisions (granting permits etc) must be based on verifiable data. Scientifically verifiable data takes time to develop. The proposed changes to NEPA regulations impose totally unrealistic deadlines. They are akin to requiring that all the evidence in a homicide investigation MUST be gathered within 48 hours or it is inadmissible.
We must vote in November as if our lives depend upon it.
Bernard A. Penner
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