Economic Stimulus Package Proposed Barrasso Amendment Would Exempt Projects from NEPA
The 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?