BISMARCK –Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring applauded today’s announcement of the Council of Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.
NEPA is a procedural statute that requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed major actions and has not been comprehensively updated in more than 40 years. In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13807, which established a One Federal Decision policy, including a two-year goal for completing environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects.
“Agriculture has been largely impacted by NEPA,” Goehring said. “Ranchers have had to wait for years to execute a managed grazing plan until environmental impact statements were done. Even management of destructive prairie dogs on grasslands required a lengthy process which resulted in more destruction of forage and harm to the environment before a plan to control them could be implemented.”
Goehring said that in some cases, anyone trying to borrow a significant amount of money from the federal government was subject to NEPA regulations and had to go through the process. “One example is livestock operations who were significantly impacted from making improvements or enhancements to facilities because of the outdated and burdensome regulations,” he said.
“The CEQ has found that the average time for federal agencies to conduct NEPA reviews is 4.5 years, with some projects taking much longer due to environmental activists challenging NEPA analyses in court,” Goehring said. “The changes bring about accountability to deliver a timely decision on environmental impact statements and helps to streamline and clarify these cumbersome and complex regulations. We welcome an updated and modernized regulation.”
More details on the changes and instructions to submit comments may be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/nepa-modernization/.