Don’t undermine local voices in environmental decisions

April 27, 2018

Poll after poll has shown that a large segment of the electorate supported President Trump precisely because he was so unacceptable to elites. These voters believe, with some justification, that elites tune out their voices. Voting for President Trump, and supporting him despite his difficulties, is these voters’ way of demanding to be heard.

How ironic it is, then, that some Republicans who benefited from this disaffection are seeking to eviscerate one of the few federal laws that assures ordinary people and small businesses a voice before the government takes action that could radically impact their lives. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), on which the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing Wednesday, is best-known for its role in protecting vulnerable wildlife and the cleanliness of our air and water. But it is also a vital citizen empowerment statute.

No one doubts the importance to a manufacturing-dependent community when a factory shuts down. In the many communities whose economies depend on recreation and tourism, precisely the same concerns apply when a logging or drilling project threatens to despoil the forests or beaches that bring visitors to their areas.

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