Since you're reading this, you're probably someone who calls your legislators and writes government managers, or at least appreciates having the ability to do so should the need arise. Right now, your ability to comment on government projects is under threat. The White House Council on Environmental Quality is taking comments on a proposed revision to the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, one of our nation's bedrock environmental protections. For nearly 50 years, NEPA has ensured transparency and accountability when government decisions threaten environmental, public health, and economic impacts.
When the Forest Service develops a new timber project, NEPA requires them to publicly describe their plans and accept comments from you. NEPA also requires the Forest Service: to explain why they're taking action and whether there are other, less harmful alternatives to met those needs; to analyze environmental, community, and financial impacts; and to consider your comments.
Why it matters
It was through NEPA and fieldwork that Georgia ForestWatch discovered that a proposal to thin pine forest across 7,000 acres included mostly hardwoods and few pines. Comments submitted through NEPA eventually reduced the project to 500 acres, where there actually were thick stands of pine.
That project was not an isolated incident. Study after study shows this law often prevents costly boondoggles from getting the green light and prompts consideration and implementation of less costly, less damaging alternatives. On the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, the importance of NEPA to ForestWatch's efforts cannot be overstated. The law has been instrumental to preventing logging on steep slopes, protecting water quality, and preserving old-growth forests.
The rules up for revision go beyond north Georgia. They apply to all federal government agencies, and impact management of millions of acres. NEPA has played a key role in everything from saving taxpayers from paying for an unneeded bypass to preventing a dam operator from cutting off water to whitewater enthusiasts and all the animals in a river.
We take for granted that we get to know what the government is doing. But right now there is a choice between backroom deals and political favors on one hand and transparency and accountability on the other. Speak up for a better future, because we need a government that listens to people and considers how its actions will impact the environment and communities.
Please take action now!
online, using the blue "Comment Now!" button on the right side of their webpage. You can add comments directly to the online form and/or attach a letter. Comments on the rule must be submitted by August 20. In the comment, let your voice be heard and tell your story.
- Tell the White House it's important to have public input on major federal decisions.
- Tell the White House it's important to review a range of alternatives before we spend millions and billions in taxpayer dollars.
- Tell the White House it's essential we consider how projects will impact low income communities and communities of color.
- Tell the White House that we need input from a number of agencies with different expertise to fully grasp the impact of a project.
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