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PNS Daily Newscast - July 6,2020 


Today is the final day to register to vote in Arizona's primary election; the FDA declines to back Trump claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless."

2020Talks - July 6, 2020 


This year's July 4th had COVID-19, ongoing protests about systemic racism, and a presidential visit to Mt. Rushmore. Plus, Trump signed an order to plan a new statue park.

NEPA: Do Proposed Changes Streamline, or Sabotage?

At a Denver hearing last week, WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition signed by 15,000 Americans who oppose federal changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. (sierraclub.org)
At a Denver hearing last week, WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition signed by 15,000 Americans who oppose federal changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. (sierraclub.org)
February 14, 2020

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Despite potential negative consequences for Western states, only one more public hearing is scheduled on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA. Federal officials got an earful in Denver on Tuesday over the controversial changes.

The law requires a major environmental evaluation any time new infrastructure is built, such as dams and oil pipelines. The Trump administration wants to make these projects easier to approve.

Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the NEPA process is often the only opportunity people have to shape projects in their communities.

"Whether that's a bridge near your home or a waterway, a freeway you you drive on every day," says Gilchrist. "So this allows people to review projects that impact them, and it gives them a chance to voice their opinions and objections."

Signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, NEPA became the first major U.S. environmental law. If the proposed changes are adopted, in-depth environmental reviews would be limited to two years, or one year for less-detailed assessments.

The reviews also would no longer consider cumulative environmental impacts of a project, such as climate change, air or water pollution.

Because the proposal would narrow the scope of projects under NEPA jurisdiction and limit public participation, Gilchrist says it could open more public lands to industries that want to develop them without critical environmental reviews.

"I think it's very significant that there are only two hearings," says Gilchrist. "NEPA itself is about public input, and I believe the Trump administration is doing this to essentially limit public input."

Under the Trump Administration's "energy first" policy, an additional one million acres in Nevada have been offered to the fossil-fuel industry for exploration, according to the Sierra Club.

The final public hearing will be on March 25 in Washington, DC, but comments can also be made online at 'regulations.gov' until March 10.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV