Protecting Water for Western Irrigated Agriculture
The Family Farm Alliance earlier today sent formal written comments to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in response to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on a potentially sweeping update of its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules. Click here for the Alliance response to CEQ.
CEQ is “considering” updating its implementing regulations for NEPA, noting that it has issued numerous guidance documents over the last 40 years but has substantively amended the implementing rules only once. CEQ sought comment on over two dozen issues associated with NEPA implementation, ranging from coordinating reviews involving multiple agencies, the scope of reviews, time limits for completion of reviews, the extent of public involvement and whether definitions of key terms should be revised.
“The often slow and cumbersome federal regulatory process is a major obstacle to realization of projects and actions that could enhance Western water supplies,” said Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen. “NEPA implementation, in particular, can have a direct bearing on the success or failure of critical water supply enhancement projects”. Alliance members also include many Western water managers, who often use NEPA mechanisms like Categorical Exclusions and Findings of No Significant Impact in conjunction with annual operations and maintenance activities on ditches or major rehabilitation and repair projects on existing dams.
“We are hopeful that a concerted good-faith effort working with CEQ will result in a streamlined regulatory process that will be efficient, fair and effective,” said Mr. Keppen.