Key farm groups are opposing the Biden Administration’s final phase 1 revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) affecting major infrastructure projects.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) say the revised NEPA rules are a step backwards and jeopardize the very projects the Biden Administration is promoting.
Here is AFBF’s Shelby Hagenauer.
“We’re concerned that infrastructure projects and things that farmers and ranchers care about…locks and dams, roadways, railways, that the investments in that infrastructure are going to be slowed down by a more cumbersome NEPA process.”
Hagenauer says the earlier revised 2020 rule reduced red tape.
“The revised 2020 rule actually moved us forward, in terms of addressing streamlining and more efficient permitting for everything from broadband to infrastructure, and, with this change, the administration and CEQ are reverting back to many regulations from the mid to late 70s.”
Referring to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Farm Bureau argues the pandemic, supply chain bottlenecks and drought in the West are already aggravating food and fuel inflation. It says a slow and cumbersome NEPA process will make things worse.
(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)
Release from American farm Bureau Federation:
NEPA Changes Signal Return to Outdated, Cumbersome Regulations
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the final phase 1 revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“AFBF is disappointed that the Biden administration has decided to reverse commonsense reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Farmers and ranchers share the goal of caring for the natural resources they’ve been entrusted with and were pleased that the updated 2020 regulations allowed them to protect the environment while meeting the demands of a growing nation.
“Continued challenges from the pandemic, supply chain issues and the drought in the West are impacting farmers, ranchers and the American public in the form of increased food and fuel prices. The situation will now be made worse by the return to a slow and cumbersome NEPA review process that, in many cases, takes years to complete.
“President Biden has also made improving the nation’s infrastructure a priority, and a modernized NEPA review process would help deliver projects to communities across the country. Safe roads, waterways and railways and expanded rural broadband access are crucial to the success of rural America. Those, too, are now at risk because of outdated regulations.
“We urge the administration to stop moving backward and keep focused on working with farmers and ranchers to advance sound, science-based and practical conservation goals that protect our resources while creating opportunities for agriculture as well as every sector of the economy.”
Release from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:
Biden NEPA Framework Compromises Environmental, Economic Goals
(WASHINGTON/April 19, 2022) — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) today expressed concern that the Biden administration’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rule undermines progress made over the last several years at a time when efficient regulatory processes are critical to environmental and economic sustainability.
“When it comes to federal regulations, ranchers are often caught in the middle of political whiplash, and this CEQ process is no exception,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “Livestock producers and land managers need regulatory certainty and consistency. By returning to a pre-2020 standard, this rule returns environmental analysis to a failed model that industry and government have long agreed is woefully inadequate and inefficient. This failed model will stall important environmental projects, delay critical infrastructure improvements, and impede progress made as part of ongoing NEPA processes.”
In addition to their role in water, transportation, and conservation projects nationwide, NEPA regulations play a foundational role in all activities on federal lands. Over the past several decades, NEPA processes have become inefficient and the source of an immense amount of regulatory red tape and uncertainty as producers renew grazing permits, improve rangeland, and participate in USDA voluntary conservation programs.
NCBA and PLC, in conjunction with the American Sheep Industry Association, previously submitted comments in response to the Council for Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and have long advocated for a NEPA process that is targeted, concise, and timely.