Environmentalism

Trump Administration Streamlines National Environmental Policy Act

Activists cry foul

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The release earlier this week by the Trump administration's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) of updated rules implementing the National Environmental Policy Act was met with furious denunciations from leading environmental activist organizations. The Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Director Sharon Buccino asserted that the new rules "would gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)." National Wildlife Federation President Collin O'Mara also declared that the CEQ's "final rule effectively guts" NEPA, presenting "a clear and present danger to all Americans." Friends of the Earth Legal Director Marcie Keever stated, "The Trump Administration's attacks on NEPA are dangerous and unforgivable."

The NEPA, enacted in 1970 and signed by President Richard Nixon, requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. Among other things, federal agencies must prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) if it is proposing a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Sounds reasonable, but, as many critics have pointed out, the statute and the EIS processes have evolved over 50 years to now function as a way for not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) groups to roadblock infrastructure projects they dislike. For example, anti-nuclear power activists early on weaponized NEPA to stymie and then kill off the U.S. nuclear power industry.

In its final rule, the CEQ points out that the average length of an EIS is now 661 pages and typically takes 4.5 years to complete. The CEQ cites a study by the non-partisan reform coalition Common Good that estimated that the cost of a 6–year delay in starting construction on public projects costs the nation over $3.9 trillion, including the cost of prolonged inefficiencies and avoidable pollution.

"It took four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge, five years to build the Hoover Dam, and less than one year to build the Empire State Building," observed CEQ head Mary Neumayr in an op-ed. Such construction timelines under the old NEPA rules are unimaginable.

The activist groups chiefly object to how the new rules clarify that non-federal projects with minimal federal funding or minimal federal involvement, such that the agency cannot control the outcome of the project, are not major federal actions and thus do not require an EIS before proceeding. In addition, the activists decry the fact that the new rules require that EIS reviews consider only the reasonably foreseeable direct environmental impacts of proposed projects and not, as in the past, speculative indirect and cumulative effects.

Although the CEQ invited comment on whether there should be a threshold for "minimal federal funding," such as a percentage of a project's cost or a specific dollar figure, the agency did not set such a threshold. In their comments to the CEQ on revising NEPA, my policy colleagues at the Reason Foundation suggested that NEPA would only apply to federal actions with a value of at least $175 million and only if a project is "subject to Federal control and responsibility, and it has effects that may be significant." The new regulations also sets a time limit of two years for the preparation of EISs and a page limit of 150 pages for most cases.

By streamlining the NEPA regulatory process, the Trump administration has taken a step in the right direction toward overcoming the bureaucratic hurdles and legal wrangling that have made NEPA reviews inefficient, ineffective, costly, and extremely time-consuming.

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  1. “The new regulations also sets a time limit of two years for the preparation of EISs and a page limit of 150 pages for most cases.”

    And when he wins in November, a time limit of 10 minutes, on a postcard.

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  2. States like California will just ignore it and impose their own ridiculous rules. And that is just fine except when Cali finally shits the bed and their refugees start heading east we’re going to have to put them somewhere, and nobody wants a bunch of dirtbag Californians in their neighborhood or living in refugee camps in their parks.

    Well maybe they do in Minneapolis.

    1. Give em all the empty houses in Detroit.

      1. No. We’re still a purple state.

    2. Europe still loves refugees, don’t they? Most of these Californians can’t stop yammering on about how great the trains were or how wonderful socialized medicine looked, during their gap year backpacking through Vienna.

      Sounds like a win-win to me.

      1. “…Most of these Californians can’t stop yammering on about how great the trains were or how wonderful socialized medicine looked, during their gap year backpacking through Vienna…”

        And they’re still here.
        All those H’wood lefties who swore to immigrate to Canada if Trump won are still populating Malibu and the H’wood hills; can’t seem to find their way to LAX, it seems.

  3. el oh fucking el.

    The city of Berkeley is moving forward with a first-of-its kind proposal to replace police with unarmed civilians during traffic stops in an effort to curb racial profiling.

    After hours of emotional public testimony, council members in the northern California city approved a reform measure that calls for a committee tasked with police reforms. They include removing the police department from responding to calls involving people experiencing homelessness or mental illness and finding ways to eventually cut the police budget by half.

    1. At the council meeting, after residents shared personal accounts of police violence, Berkeley’s mayor, Jesse Arreguin, said he did not expect a new transportation department overnight because conversations will be hard and detailed with complicated logistics to figure out. But he said communities of color in his city feel targeted by police and that needs to change.

      To be fair, it is Berkely.

    2. Some progressive Bay Area activists said the move was a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough. The majority of commenters during a nearly nine-hour meeting that ended in the middle of the night had called for a more radical proposal of immediate defunding of the Berkeley police.

      I’ve seen city council meetings in my town… I can only imagine what this one looked like.

      1. Heck if I were there I might vote to defund the police just to get the 9 hour meeting to end.

        1. Or because of your support for leftist causes.

          1. There you go. You just have to be the fly in the soup don’t you. Gotta make the catty Mean Grrl comment.

            1. And you have to cry.

      2. 9 hours? I would rather pull out my teeth.

        1. No one called for a question? Seems no one on the city council ever read Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary procedure, ever been in FFA, 4-H or went to Boys/Girl state.

          1. Boys/Girls State!

            I thought I was the only one

            1. Boys State Idaho 1993.

            2. Also Hugh O’Brien youth Leadership Conference.

        2. Me too, exactly what I wanted to say

      3. Berkley is 60% white and 20% Asian. Do they mean the Asians are scared?Because the only other “communities of color” in Berkley are college kids, and I doubt they’re hassled for driving while black. In Berkley.

        1. Why would you assume that?

          1. Is Berkely really the new KKK enclave of Amerikkka?

            On second thought… I’m going to suggest ‘yes’ given who runs that town.

        2. Cough–Emeryville—Cough. Richmond works too. Plus it’s just a skosh North of Oakland.

          Telegraph was very pretty, were it not for the insanely pushy homeless/dipshit young buns. And that was 20 years ago. God only knows how nuts they are now.

          Visiting Berkeley was worth it for Kermit Lynch and I want to say, Acme Bakery right next door. The view from the Science thingy on top of the ridge, near the old cyclotron, was pretty awesome too. Such a beautiful area.

    3. Did anyone mention that traffic stops are some of the most dangerous parts of policing (not saying policing usually dangerous)? Leaving aside most cops are injured by motor vehicle collisions during traffic stops, this is also when a good portion of cops are shot or assaulted by criminals when they get pulled over (again, not saying everyone stopped by the cops for traffic violations are criminals). Yes, these stops often do result in police abuse as well and shootings of innocent civilians. Will the traffic enforcement be armed? If so, how will they be different than cops except in name?
      P.S. I placed the disclaimers so people like DoL, White Knight and ChemJeff can’t twist my words to imply I was saying cops are likely to get shot and everyone stopped is a criminal. I am sure they will make some stupid statement about me implying some form of racism though.

      1. I think the theory is these stops are dangerous because of the threat of arrest due to police trained to not just issue a ticket but to use the stop as a means to uncover other wrong doings. Not sure how this will work out for them but I wish them the best. Modern policing has been an experiment from the get go, so what’s one more experiment as long as they don’t delude themselves because of ideology.

        1. Actually it’s more a hypothesis.

    4. A lot of money went into this portrayal of exactly how this will work.

    5. I lived in an HOA managed condo development a long time ago in CA. I’m sure the “unarmed civilians” who are attracted to this sort of position won’t be any worse than the ones who run those places. Probably.

      1. Coming soon to Berkeley, people who will make you LONG for the police to irritate you.

        Let’s see how those hippies like it when somebody they pull over tells them to go fuck themselves and sues them constantly.

  4. This means millions of jobs coming soon.

    1. If they are armed and enforcing the law, aren’t they still cops? Or will they be unarmed and incapable of defending themselves if they are assaulted during a traffic stop (granted it is a rare occurrence but definitely always a possibility).

      1. Sorry this was in reference to Diane’s post.

    2. I was visiting with a BLM range conservation officer in the largest cattle county in Idaho, which just happens to be 93% federally owned, about this once. He states when he started an a grazing conservation plan was 40 pages and generally took only a couple of weeks to conduct. They rarely called for an EIS, either. The grazing deeds were usually a 100 years old and were attached to historical ranches that predated the formation of the BLM and USFS existed. Now, he says they are 300+ pages long, usually require an additional EIS and take years to process. Grazing plans are only good for a decade, but can’t be revoked unless the rancher violates the agreement and refuses to change their behavior. They can’t be revoked because a new grazing plan/permit hasn’t been approved. So the upshot is that the rancher is allowed to continue to graze under the old agreement/permit until the new one can be approved, rather or not the new plan is better for the environment. He also stated most of the time the permits were held up because of out of state activist sueing over anything they could find wrong, including type errors and missed comas. They have teams of high paid lawyers who comb through them trying to find the smallest error, rather or not it is pertinent.
      Another example is the Friends of the Clearwater, a supposed grassroots environmental group that has sued to keep Idaho and the federal government from straightening US 95 south of Moscow. The stretch they want to straighten averages at least one traffic fatality a year. The group sued because the EIS didn’t include mitigation for the Palouse Spitting worm, which has only been spotted twice in the past century (and who we know very little about it’s biology, living patterns etc, mostly anecdotal from the late 19th century) more than 20 miles from where the project is going to be done. It also happens that one of the big wigs in the Friends of the Clearwater happens to own property near where the straightened stretch will be.

      1. We’ve dealt with this in California doing development for a long time. It used to take us three to six months to get plans approved. It now takes 18-24 months at best.

        One of the problems from a development standpoint is that it’s hard to gauge where the market will be 18-24 months down the road + say six months of construction and another six months for absorption (how long it takes for the buildings to lease up or sell). If you were able to get some land in 2006 under market prices, you might be upside down by mid 2008, when your plans are finally approved and its time to get a construction loan.

        It just plays havoc with the logic for speculative development. And we haven’t even started talking about how the IRR function is sensitive to time and how so many development deals are tied to IRR hitting certain benchmarks. Development deals that make great sense on an IRR basis over 12 months don’t make any sense if it takes 24 months. Whoever first said, “Time is money” wasn’t telling us half the story on a land development deal. We’ve often offered to pay for more time or to get things done faster.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_rate_of_return#Maximizing_net_present_value

        We’ll still have the same problem with the CEQA process in California no matter what President Trump does, but streamlining the approval for these projects will save the taxpayers a bundle and get projects happening much more quickly–and we’ll see projects make sense that didn’t make sense before just because the time component was too big. Projects that take half as long to complete are much better on an IRR basis. I don’t suppose it should surprise us that a developer understands this. I guess it’s just a surprise that a developer managed to become president.

        1. We were doing an field training exercise at Ft. Hunter Liggett in 1998. We were building a gray water disposal pit for the mess hall. We built it according to the plans provided by the Post engineer. The State engineer came out and told us we built it wrong and made us dig it all up and start over. So we did. Then the Post engineer came out and told us we did it wrong, and we explained about the state engineer. No Go. Dig it up and start over. A couple days later the state engineer shows up and threatens to fine my unit. We ask him to call the Post engineer so they can be on the same page. Once again we dug it up and started over. The upshot was neither engineer could agree with the correct interpretation of how it needed to be done and after a three week field excercise we packed up and went back to Washington. The gray water disposal trench was never approved and we had to truck out gray water 20 miles a day every day to the post lagoon. And a Combat Support hospital produces a lot of gray water.
          Oh and it was a base defense excercise and when we went to dig two man fighting positions they told us we needed a state approved EIS for every fighting position, and they all had to be original. While we were waiting to board the plane in Oakland back to Spokane, I told my First Sergeant over a beer “if anyone ever invades California, let’s fight them in Nevada because it would be a hell of a lot easier”. His reply was “you ain’t bullshitting Chilli”.

          1. “…and when we went to dig two man fighting positions they told us we needed a state approved EIS for every fighting position, and they all had to be original.”

            Holy fucking shit.

            Not that the rest of your story wasn’t equally silly, but I used to sleep while camping long ago on Prewitt Ridge, getting ready to chase Bambi, hearing the Army blast all kinds of artillery miles away. Concern for the environment did not seem a major concern. Found all sorts of crap from back in the day in those hills.

            EISs for every fighting position is even sillier than I imagined California could be.

      2. BLM range conservation officer

        The other white BLM.

        1. Amusingly enough a number of my Facebook friends (mostly from Idaho and Montana) have said that when the first heard references to BLM they were wondering why a federal agency in charge of rangeland conservation was protesting police brutality. I guess it is all in what you are used to. We deal with the BLM and USFS frequently so their minds went first to the Bureau of Land Management not Black Lives Matter.

          1. Hey if LA teachers unions can do it why not land management workers?

        2. I’ve heard that being a game warden is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

          And if you hear it on the internet, it must be true.

          1. It can be. Many of the poachers are professional criminals who specialize in poaching, not someone who accidentally shot a doe when they have a buck tag or caught one to many fish. These professional poachers rarely even have licenses but do have guns and are willing to use them. Also, the drug cartels have moved into the forests to grow marijuana. My father in law is retired USFS. His good friend is retired USFS law enforcement. He said when he started out his main job was ticketing people in campgrounds for being drunk and loud or ticketing nude sunbathers. By the end of his career he was dealing with armed gangs protecting marijuana grows, who often booby trapped the forests.

            1. And meth labs.

            2. “Also, the drug cartels have moved into the forests to grow marijuana.”

              ‘I seent it.’ Even, (Shit, carry the one…) 30 years ago. Nice little plantation on the opposite ridge from where we were. Couldn’t find deer, but we could find weed. Sigh. Probably still lousy throughout the Big Sur area.

      3. In California, we’ve had projects held up through the CEQA process because we had to test every puddle on a 20 acre site for an endangered species of fairy shrimp.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anostraca

        Did you know that some endangered species are so small, they can’t be seen by the naked eye?

        In order to test for them, scientists have to look for them under a microscope to tell if they’re the endangered species of fairy shrimp or the common species of fairy shrimp. And you can’t just do a dry test. You have to test once in the dry season and once in a wet season–if it doesn’t rain enough that year, you have to wait for another wetter year before they can hatch the eggs and look at them under a microscope.

        Some of the puddles we had to test were two inches long and half an inch wide.

        1. See my story above about fighting positions and gray water disposal trenches on Fort Hunter Liggett. Also, I’ve seen a whole operation shut down on Camp Parks in Dublin because someone thought they saw a burrowing owl.

          1. And I’ve never been to twenty nine stumps or Ft. Irwin, but I understand that finding a desert tortoise can shut down a whole training operation until it is relocated.

            1. There is even a standing joke about the tortoise enclosure on Fr. Irwin in the Army.
              “How do tortoises fuck?”
              “In…. (Pause for ten seconds) out… (Pause for ten seconds) in….”

    3. Yes indeed this great news.

    4. The bigger job killer is the uncertainty during the wait, not any outright denials.

  5. “Activists cry foul”
    #CryMore
    #ElectionsHaveConsequences

    1. HERE► Even Brendan is a transphobe, radfem kind: see his focus on “M2F are a threat to women, they’re potential rapists like all the men” while totally ignoring the existence of F2M (actually the majority among the younger transitions). He also doesn’t care about children transitions issue: he prefer to talk much more about the alleged plights of adult lesbians.
      And if you do not agree he spout “misogyny!” to silence you. ReadMore.

    1. Talk about mixed emotions…

      1. Jones allegedly punched his fiancee’s sister in her face at least three times, causing her to fall. Her children then attempted to stop him from hitting their mother, and Jones reportedly punched and shoved them and left the apartment.

        I’m losing no sleep over it.

  6. Gordon, as i have stated elsewhere, i don’t understand why so many are still enamoured with modern football, perhaps you are to young to remember paying on the gate, terraces, an atmosphere that in some cases had the hairs on the back of your neck up, tinged with a bit of menace! Players who were paid well but still had roots in the community and clubs that while not perfect by any stretch still felt “owned” by the community HERE►ReadMore.

  7. I posted a link to the Chron article on this earlier this week in the AM links.
    It was full of alarums and scarums, not a one of which dealt with specifics; simply screaming it was a roll-back of Nixon’s ‘protections’.
    It was obviously not a Chron-originated article; they no longer have writers capable of the cleverness to deliver that sort of sophistry.
    Regardless of the feed, not only was there no specifics, there was not a word regarding any ‘progress’ as a result of the regulations, nor any attempt at a cost/benefit analysis.

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  10. Fuck streamlining.
    Terminate the fascist EPA.
    Let the individual states handle their own environmental problems.
    Or does that make too much sense?

    1. Not really, given that the environment doesn’t respect state boundaries. For instance, you’d end up with 10 states regulating the Mississippi River, often with conflicting priorities.

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