The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Tanner Beymer, Associate Director of Government Affairs, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council.
For those who are intimately familiar with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) know the disfunction and egregious overreach the law brings to livestock producers—particularly those that operate on federal lands. Cattle and sheep producers commend the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for announcing new rules and charting a path forward for a new, streamlined era in environmental policy.
As the Council on Environmental (CEQ) collects comments on the proposed rule over the next 60 days, share your support for the modernized rule – a night and day improvement from the catastrophic regulatory burden our industry faces.
When I say catastrophe, I mean it. Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), documents that explore the “significant” environmental effects of a federal action, take an average of 4.5 years to complete. Documents for a simple grazing permit renewal can span thousands of pages. One should not need a law degree to comply with federal environmental regulations.
NEPA in its current form is also a fan-favorite of litigious environmental groups. It spiraled from an onerous regulation to a weapon that is used to control industry and government like a puppet. Pulling strings, extreme groups hold critical infrastructure projects in limbo, leave rangeland neglected, and subject communities who depend on federal lands to a constant state of limbo. All the while, our government has been cornered; left with few options other than to settle and move on from litigation from these groups to avoid excessive court costs or to fight a messy legal battle that could take decades.
With the modernized regulations, NEPA now has a proposed two-year deadline for completion of an EIS and provides a one-year deadline for Environmental Assessments (EA), the less cumbersome of the environmental reviews under NEPA. It allows for consideration of state documents in applicable cases. It reduces duplication and it addresses the threshold of NEPA, meaning providing bounds to what NEPA can apply to. It provides guidance where variables are in place, providing clarity behind the law.
As we race toward the March 10th comment submission deadline, we would be remiss if we didn’t ask, once again, for your participation in the comment period. These comments will guide the finalized rule. Please consider submitting your unique story about NEPA and the need for certainty and clarity in environmental policy. Visit policy.ncba.org to learn more and submit your comment today.