|The Family Farm Alliance and hundreds of other Western organizations are going back to the drawing board to prepare formal comments on the long-awaited Phase 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rule released last July by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).|
The new CEQ rule would codify NEPA reforms included in recent debt-ceiling legislation as well as to advance inclusions of Biden Administration priorities.
The often slow and cumbersome federal regulatory process is a major obstacle to realization of projects and actions that could enhance Western water supplies. NEPA implementation can have a direct bearing on the success or failure of critical water supply enhancement projects, and even impact annual operations and maintenance activities on ditches or major rehabilitation and repair projects on existing dams.
“Based on our review of the proposed rule, we fear the proposed new mitigation, assessment, and other mandates may ultimately further delay project approvals,” said Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen. “These are just a few of the concerns we have heard and read about. We’re encouraging our members to let us know if they have concerns of their own, which we’ll keep in mind as we work to finalize our comment letter.”
The Alliance’s letter to CEQ – nearly 20 pages in length – will formalize those concerns for the record.
Western Farmer-Stockman earlier this week ran this guest column by Mr. Keppen that further elaborates on initial concerns with the proposed NEPA rule.
CEQ will take comments on the proposal through Sept. 29. The transmittal to CEQ can be accomplished fairly quickly on-line at https://www.regulations.gov/document/CEQ-2023-0003-0001.