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Changes coming to environmental reviews

Editor,

Don’t let federal agencies waste taxpayer money on bad projects.

My voice and your voice are under attack.

For 50 years, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has empowered taxpayers to demand that the federal government make smarter decisions. NEPA has reinforced the principle that public dollars should be spent wisely and with public input.

None of us can afford to leap before we look, and the federal government is no different. NEPA makes sure that federal agencies carefully assess and disclose the impacts of building roads, levees, and other major projects — and requires agencies to look for less costly and less harmful alternatives. Critically, NEPA also gives every one of us a voice in those decisions.

In North Carolina, for example, the NEPA process saved over $1 billion on one project alone when environmental reviews showed that the proposed Garden Parkway toll road in Charlotte would have devastated the Catawba River without fixing traffic congestion.

But now, the Trump Administration is proposing radical changes to the NEPA rules that would get rid of common-sense protections. Many types of projects would get no environmental review at all. Reviews for other projects would ignore critical information and many types of impacts.

The proposed changes would also make it much easier for the federal government to ignore public comments, regardless of the potential risks to public health and safety or the amount of taxpayer dollars that would be spent.

NEPA has worked for all of us for 50 years. NEPA empowers each of us to participate in federal decisions that can have a profound impact on our lives, our communities, and our environment. That’s why it’s so important to protect this law. I urge everyone to go to regulations.gov and submit a comment to docket CEQ-2019-0003 to tell the federal government to abandon its proposed changes to the NEPA rules. And call your senators and congressperson to oppose this dangerous move by the administration.

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud

Secretary, Friends of Buckingham