Economic Stimulus Package Proposed Barrasso Amendment Would Exempt Projects from NEPA

  • Published on February 5th, 2009

Barrasso opposed the Economic Stimulus PackageThe economic Stimulus Package passage is needed immediately, according to President Barack Obama; however, partisan politics is interfering as usual and the environment is taking the heat. Consider the Barrasso NEPA amendment proposed by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who has confirmed his opposition to the package.

The Barrasso amendment would exempt any project funded by the Economic Stimulus Plan from a normal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

“The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.”


The NEPA process usually takes about 4.4 years for any federal construction project. The Barrasso amendment would exempt an Stimulus Package project from full NEPA review if it takes more than 270 days. According to Oregon Wild, the amendment offered by Senator John Barrasso to H.R. 1, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” would:

“…not expedite the review process, but instead creates the real threat of projects that have received no federal environmental review or public input moving forward, despite the fact that those projects may have tremendous negative impacts on the environment. Allowing projects such as highway or other infrastructure construction projects to proceed without even considering the potential impacts of those actions could lead to a host of unforeseen and irreversible consequences to the human environment.”

Senator Boxer has proposed an opposing amendment that would require every stimulus-related project to complete a full NEPA review. I can’t help but suspect Republican Senator Barrasso of plotting against the Stimulus Plan with his NEPA amendment.  He has voiced his adament objection to the plan, so why propose an amendment?  With President Obama urging immediate action on this Stimulus Plan, will NEPA suffer a precarious loss?

>>See also: Economic Stimulus Package: Will Obama Push for a Smart Grid?


About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play ( "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog:
  • Mridul Chadha

    Without the NEPA review and proper environmental assessment we would be ignoring the possible social, economic, environmental and other effects these projects can have.

    Overlooking the NEPA review would not solve the purpose as one of the objectives of the bill is improving the state of environment. Therefore, the assessment agencies must complete the the procedure quickly and in an objective manner. They can hire more people and they could refer to EIA studies of similar projects done in the past to complete the procedure quickly but in an objective manner.

  • Kevin

    Sorry, but how is the stimulus supposed to work if projects are delayed for 4 years during NEPA review? Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. To characterize this as right-wing tree hating is missing the point, I think.