Environmental Policy Act being weakened?
July 28, 2005
A retired federal land employee from Silt joined conservationists from around the region Thursday in expressing concern over the future of a landmark environmental law.Bob Elderkin and others who participated in a telephone press conference said the National Environmental Policy Act, which President Nixon signed in 1970, is in danger of being weakened.They also argued that a congressional committee is failing to involve the public adequately in evaluating a law to involve the public in federal land management.”The National Environmental Policy Act protects and empowers the public,” Elderkin said. “It makes sure the local community is not left out of decisions, and it provides us the opportunity to base these decisions on good information.”Elderkin worked for the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Service and Bureau of Land Management. He was involved in oil and gas regulation at the BLM, and since his retirement has been vocal in the debate over proposed drilling on the Roan Plateau near Rifle.Pursuant to NEPA requirements, the BLM is working on an environmental impact statement for the plateau. Its draft EIS generated more than 70,000 comments, almost all favoring protecting the plateau top from drilling.Environmentalists say such public involvement is crucial to public lands management, but also is threatened by a current congressional review of NEPA.”Today … NEPA and the public’s voice is under siege,” said Steve Capra, executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.Environmentalists fear that efforts to speed up review processes under NEPA could result in eliminating opportunities for public comment. (From the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent)