Proposed NEPA Change Lauded by Ranchers

The Trump administration has proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that could help ranchers. (DTN photo by ShayLe Stewart)

OMAHA (DTN) — The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a proposal to streamline the process of a National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which has created a drawn-out process for farmers and ranchers who seek renewal of term grazing permits, who want to conduct range improvements and who want to be involved in USDA programs.

The U.S. Department of Interior is set to publish a proposed rule to shorten the time for seeking approval of infrastructure and other projects under the auspices of NEPA.

In particular, the Trump administration would establish time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements and one year for completion of environmental assessments.

The current NEPA has an average wait times for approval of four to five years.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands Council and the Family Farm Alliance expressed support for the proposal, subject to a 60-day public comment period once it posts to the Federal Register in about one week.

“Over time, NEPA has evolved into a complex web of onerous processes and bureaucratic red tape,” fifth-generation Oregon rancher and Public Lands Council President Bob Skinner said in a statement.

“These sensible updates proposed by the Council on Environmental Quality are welcome news to ranching families whose businesses have been impacted by the overwhelming and growing costs of NEPA compliance.”

Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the proposal would offer “commonsense regulatory relief” and urged cattle producers to “get their voice on the record by submitting comments in favor of this rulemaking.”

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