2. MANDATORY ENVIRONMENTAL-IMPACT ANALYSES WILL IN FACT BE MANDATORY
Since 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has required every federal agency to conduct environmental-impact assessments for all of their proposed actions. Over the past eight years, that requirement has been watered down, re-interpreted, or simply ignored. "Since taking office, the Bush administration has been trying to fundamentally weaken NEPA," says Stephanie Young, campaign coordinator for the Partnership Project in Washington, DC.
Just this past month, Shell was about to drill, baby, drill off the coast of Alaska, until it was stopped by the courts, which ruled that Bush's Interior Department had failed to conduct the required NEPA assessment before giving Shell permission.
The National Forest Service, in particular, has effectively exempted itself from the requirement entirely, says Marty Hayden, V-P of policy and legislation with Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. More than 20 years ago, Ronald Reagan required the Forest Service to monitor and maintain wildlife populations on national forest lands. This tracking helped pinpoint where different activities, such as logging or off-roading, would be harmful, thus creating a zoning plan for forests. The Bush administration dropped the requirement in 2004, resulting in a nationwide stoppage of forest-species monitoring. "They have tried to eliminate those standards," says Hayden, "and instead just have forest managers sort of think about ecosystems and diversity." Earthjustice is still fighting that effort in the courts.
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