Senators say environmental policy rules are outdated and cumbersome

Oklahoma U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford were among 18 Republican senators who wrote a White House Council on Environmental Quality saying they support the President’s proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act.

The letter came as the White House Council prepared to hold a field hearing in Denver on the proposed changes. The Senators, in their letter to Mary Neumayr at the CEQ commended her on efforts to modernize the regulations.

“This long over-due rulemaking will help facilitate the development of needed infrastructure in communities across the West, streamline responsible natural resource management, conservation, and recreation activities on our public lands and further American prosperity without compromising federal agencies’ responsibility to the environment or public input.”

Inhofe, Lankford and the others including Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, stated that the NEP regulations have not been substantially updated in more than four decades “during which the environmental review process became increasingly outdated leading to an unnecessarily cumbersome permitting process, delays in project implementation and an abundance of litigation.”

Their letter stated that the average length of an Environmental Impact Statement is now over 600 pages and takes over four and a half years to complete.

“This is not conducive to public engagement, sound decision-making, or investments in  our communities and pulls resources away from critical work that needs to be done,” concluded the Senators.

But environmentalists are against the proposed changes, charging that they undermine the bedrock environmental law. One Democratic congresswoman wrote in the Denver Post recently “Cutting off the American people’s ability to challenge their government’s decisions is a dangerous path to start our country down.”

All 18 Senators are Republicans. One who signed the letter is Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was heavily criticized by party leadership after he voted in support of one of the articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump.