More assault on the environment by the Republicans:
Cornerstone environmental law, NEPA, under fire in energy bill | By Amanda Griscom Little | Grist Magazine | Muckraker | 05 May 2005: "When the energy bill sailed through the House of Representatives late last month, the media reported that it was the same old grotesquely corpulent package that the GOP leadership had previously tried -- and failed -- to pass through Congress four times in the last four years. This is true. But what flew under the radar were a few new provisions snuck in at the 11th hour by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee, which have made the bill even more environmentally threatening than previous versions, many Democrats and environmentalists say.
The environmental statute Pombo is targeting this time: the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, long considered a cornerstone of U.S. environmental law. NEPA requires all major projects on federal land -- from logging to highway construction to energy exploration -- to be reviewed for their potential environmental impact, and mandates a comment period during which the public can voice related concerns.
A Pombo-backed amendment sponsored by Rep. John Peterson (R-Penn.) and added to the bill the day before markup would allow energy companies to skirt NEPA requirements in a number of situations, with the aim of speeding energy development on federal land.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee, told Muckraker it would grant the energy industry 'carte blanche to conduct drilling and exploration activities on public lands without any kind of meaningful environmental review, and remove the legal grounds for scientists, communities, and local governments to intercede. It is an affront to the American people.'