Immediate Release: 8/20/2018
Wild Horse Education Joins 341 Public Interest Orgs to Protect NEPA; Environment, Public Health and Public Voice
On August 20, 2018 a coalition letter was sent in response to the proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA regulations) representing a collective of 341 public interest organizations, representing millions of members and supporters, to the Council on Environmental Quality’s recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). An earlier joint letter was sent to extend the comment period to 60 days, from the proposed 30, successfully.
On June 20, 2018, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced plans to revise CEQ’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA regulations). This is one of the most severe attacks on our environment, public health, and right to public participation we have seen to date from the Trump administration.
NEPA is the essential process of law that allows communities to participate in process to protect themselves and their environment from dangerous, rushed or poorly planned federal projects. Often this process is the only opportunity for public involvement.
“The list of organizations is in truth a representation of the heart of NEPA intention; big and small, we are a part of the process and must be considered. As a voice for a public lands interest, wild horses, that is often excluded, it is an honor to be a part of this effort to protect that public interest,” Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education
It is important to emphasis that under this Congress alone there have been over 100 attacks on the NEPA process.
- Restrictions on public input: The right of citizens to meaningfully weigh in on federal decisions impacting their communities is the most important guarantee of the current CEQ regulations. This notice strongly suggests CEQ intends to limit the public’s ability to participate in federal decision-making.
- Potential Conflicts of Interest: Applicants could be allowed to prepare their own environmental impact statements, thus eliminating objective analyses about the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposal.
- Imposition of hard deadlines for project approval: Establishing hard deadlines for project approval regardless of project size, complexity, and impact or the degree of public controversy over a proposal.
- Inappropriate categorical exclusions and waivers on environmental review: When used correctly, Categorical Exclusions (CEs) can streamline the approval of actions that a federal agency has researched and demonstrated do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. When used inappropriately, CEs can be used to steamroll public concerns and capitulate to corporate interests that elevate their profits over the public interest.
Excerpts of over 100 pages submitted:
Rather than contemplating a rewrite of the regulations, we urge that CEQ invest its modest resources, and most importantly, its leadership position, in a systematic initiative to enforce them. Changes to the regulations will not result in improvements unless federal agencies have the organizational structure and resources that facilitate their implementation.
The promise of the NEPA process—that the government will consider the environmental impacts of its decisions, disclose those impacts to those affected, and ensure the public has an opportunity to meaningfully weigh in—is at the heart of democracy. These democratic principles enshrined in NEPA explain why it is among the most widely exported laws the United States has ever passed, with over 160 countries adopting similar legislation.
In light of other administrative actions taken over the course of the last year, it is clear this rulemaking is part of a broader and deeply troubling ideological effort to reduce or eliminate public contributions to decisionmaking by agencies expending public funds. Those efforts include processes to dismantle NEPA regulations in order to cater to special interests of developers and industry polluters — rather than the interests of the public for whom these regulations are intended to benefit.
CEQ’s guidance on “Appropriate Use of Mitigation and Monitoring and Clarifying the Appropriate Use of Mitigated Findings of No Significant Impact” is an excellent document. Mitigation and monitoring are often the neglected part of the NEPA process. It is essential to the integrity of the process that mitigation be capable of being implemented, that it is implemented and that it is monitored. We are concerned that ineffective mitigation measures have been used as a means to overlook environmental and community harms having significant impact.
note for WHE readers: Last year we participated with the FOIA Project, (Freedom of Information Act). WHE litigated critical issues involving federal agency FOIA offices withholding critical information including that which dealt directly to threats to individual and public safety. The case was turned over to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and a House investigative team.
Many debates surrounding wild horses occur at a roundup, adoption, or threats of sale to slaughter. Those actions occur after the decision to remove a wild horse. That decision is created by the NEPA process.
List of organizations participating in the coalition letter:
350 Bay Area • 350 Santa Cruz • 350.org • 350Vermont • ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation • Alaska Clean Water Advocacy • Alaska Community Action on Toxics • Alaska Wilderness League • Alaska Wildlife Alliance • Alaska’s Big Village Network • Alaskans FOR Wildlife • Alberta Wilderness Association • All-Creatures.org • Alliance for International Reforestation, Inc. • American Bird Conservancy • American Indian Mothers Inc • American Rivers • Amigos Bravos • Animal Legal Defense Fund • Animal Welfare Institute • Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc. • Animas Valley Institute • Arizona Native Plant Society • Athens County Fracking Action Network • Atchafalaya Baskinkeeper • Audubon Naturalist Society • Audubon Society of Corvallis • Audubon Society of Omaha, Nebraska • Bard College • Bark • Basin and Range Watch • Battle Creek Alliance/Defiance Canyon Raper Rescue • Bay Area – System Change not Climate Change • Bayou City Waterkeeper • Berks Gas Truth • Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) • Beyond Pesticides • Beyond Toxics • Big Morongo Canyon Preserve • Bird Conservation Network • Black Canyon Audubon Society • Black Hills Clean Water Alliance • Black Warrior Riverkeeper • Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project • Boise Chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness • Bold Alliance • Boulder Rights of Nature, Inc. • Bullsuger Alliance • California Native Plant Society • California Sportfishing Protection Alliance • California Wilderness Coalition • California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks • Californians for Western Wilderness • Campaign for Sustainable Transportation • Cascadia Wildlands • Center for Biological Diversity • Center for Environmental Health • Chesapeake Climate Action Network • Citizens Action Coalition of IN • Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community • Citizens for a Healthy Community • City of San Luis Obispo • Clean Water Action • Climate Law & Policy Project • Coal River Mountain Watch • Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities • Coast Action Group • Coast Range Association • Colorado Native Plant Society • Committee for Green Foothills • Community Works • Compassion Over Killing • Conservancy of Southwest Florida • Conservation Law Foundation • Conservation Northwest • Consumers for Safe Cell Phones • Copper Country Alliance • Cottonwood Environmental Law Center • Crawford Stewardship Project • CT Coalition for Environmental Justice • Cumberland-Harpeth Audubon Society • David Brower, Ronald Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy and Action • DC Environmental Network • DC Statehood Green Party • Defenders of Wildlife • Delaware Riverkeeper • Delaware-Otsego Audubon Soc. (NY) • Desert Tortoise Council • Dogwood Alliance • Don't Waste Arizona • Earth Guardians • Earthjustice • Earthtrust • Earthworks • Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research • ECO Diversity Media LLC (ECODiversity Magazine) • Eco-Eating • Ecological Options Network, EON • Ecology Party of Florida • Endangered Habitats League • Endangered Species Coalition • Environmental Defense Fund • Environmental Law & Policy Center • Environmental Protection Information Center • Factory Farming Awareness Coalition • Fairmont, MN Peace Group • Family Farm Defenders • Food & Water Watch • For the Fishes • Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges • Friends of Animals • Friends of Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument • Friends of the Corte Madera Creek Watershed • Friends of Dyke Marsh • Friends of Lana'i • Friends of Merrymeeting Bay • Friends of Nevada Wilderness • Friends of Penobscot Bay • Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness • Friends of the Earth US • Friends of the Everglades • Friends of Weskeag • Gasp • Georgia ForestWatch • Gila Resources Information Project • Global Union Against Radiation Deployment from Space • Glynn Environmental Coalition • Golden West Women Flyfishers • Grand Canyon Trust • Great Basin Resource Watch • Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association • Great Old Broads for Wilderness • Great Rivers Habitat Alliance • Greater Hells Canyon Council • Greater Yellowstone Coalition • Green Party of TN • Green River Action Network • GreenLatinos • Greenpeace USA • Greenway Transit Service • Growing Alternative Resource Development and Enterprise Network (GARDEN), Inc. • Harambee House, Inc. • Hawaii Audubon Society • Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate • Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice Conservation Law Foundation • Heartwood • Hispanic Federation • Houston Audubon • Howling For Wolves • Humboldt Baykeeper • Idaho Rivers United • In Defense of Animals • In the Public Interest • Indiana Forest Alliance • Citizen • Inland Ocean Coalition • Institute for Applied Ecology • Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR) • International Marine Mammal Project, Earth Island Institute • Islesboro Islands Trust • Kentucky Heartwood • Kettle Range Conservation Group • Klamath Forest Alliance • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement • Law Office of David H Becker, LLC • League of Conservation Voters • Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper • Long Beach Alliance for Clean Energy • Long Beach Panthers • Los Angeles Audubon Society • Los Padres ForestWatch • Louisiana Audubon Council • Lower Brazos Riverwatch • Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society • Lower Ohio River Waterkeeper • Madrone Audubon Society • Maine Coalition to Stop Smart Meters • Malach Consulting • Mankato Area Environmentalists • Marin Audubon Society • Marine Conservation Institute • Maryland Ornithological Society • Mass Audubon • Miami Waterkeeper • Midwest Pesticide Action Center • Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition • Minnesota Native Plant Society • Mission Blue / Sylvia Earle Alliance • Moab Solutions • Mojave Desert Land Trust • Monmouth County Audubon Society • Montana Wilderness Association • National Audubon Society • National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association • National Parks Conservation Association • National Whistleblower Center • National Wolfwatcher Coalition • Native Plant Conservation Campaign • Native Plant Society for the United States • Natural Heritage Institute • Natural Resources Council of Maine • NC WARN • Natural Resources Defense Council • Nature Abounds • Nature Coast Conservation, Inc. • Nevada Native Plant Society • Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force • New Mexico Audubon Council • New Mexico Environmental Law Center • New Mexico Horse Council • New Mexico Law Center • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance • New Mexico Sportsmen • New York City Audubon • New York Lawyers for the Public Interest • Night Sky Conservancy • North Cascades Audubon Society • Northcoast Environmental Center • Northeast Oregon Ecosystems • Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness • Northern Alaska Environmental Center • Northern Plains Resource Council • Northwest Animal Rights Organization (NARN) • Oasis Earth • Occidental Arts and Ecology Center • Oceana • Ocean Conservation Research • Ocean Conservancy • Ocean Conservation Research • Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition • Okanogan Highlands Alliance • Orca Conservancy • Oregon Natural Desert Association • Oregon Wild • Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) • Partnership for the National Trails System • Paula Lane Action Network • Pelican Media • Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Air and Water • People for Protecting Peace River, Inc Peoria Audubon Society • Pesticide Free Zone • Point Reyes Safaris • Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma • Powder River Basin Resource Council • Predator Defense • Progressive Caucus Action Fund • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) • Public Lands Project • Quad City Audubon Society • Rainforest Relief • Raptors Are The Solution • Resource Renewal Institute • RESTORE: The North Woods • Richardson Grove Coalition • Richmond Trees • Rock Creek Alliance • Rocky Mountain Wild • RootsAction.org • Russian Riverkeeper • Sacramento Audubon Society • Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment • Salem Audubon Society • Safina Center • San Francisco Baykeeper • San Juan Citizens Alliance • Santa Barbara Audubon Society • Santa Cruz Climate Action Network • Save Nevada's Water: Ban Fracking In Nevada • Save Our Cabinets • Save Our Saluda • Save Our Shores • Save Our Sky Blue Waters • Save Richardson Grove Coalition • Save the Bay • SAVE THE FROGS! • Save the Scenic Santa Ritas • Saving Birds Thru Habitat • Science and Environmental Health Network • ScientistsWarning.org • Selkirk Conservation Alliance • Sequoia ForestKeeper® • Sierra Club • Sierra Forest Legacy • Sierra Club Alaska • Soda Mountain Wilderness Council • South Florida Wildlands Association • South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership • Southeast Alaska Conservation Council • Southern Environmental Law Center • Southern Maryland Audubon Society • Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance • Spottswoode Winery, Inc. • Stanislaus Audubon Society • St. Louis Audubon Society • Sustainable Arizona • Tampa Bay Waterkeeper • Texas River Revival • The Cornucopia Institute • The Land Connection • The Lands Council • The Laukahi Network • The Otter Project and Monterey Coastkeeper • The Shalom Center • The Story of Stuff Project • The Urban Wildlands Group • The Wilderness Society • Time Laboratory • Toxic Free NC • TrailSafe Nevada • Trustees for Alaska • Turtle Island Restoration Network • Umpqua Watersheds Inc. • Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition • Uranium Watch • Utah Native Plant Society • Utah Valley Earth Forum • Vet Voice Foundation • Virginia Native Plant Society • Wasatch Clean Air Coalition • Waterkeeper Alliance • WaterLegacy • WE ACT for Environmental Justice • Whale and Dolphin Conservation • West Virginia Environmental Council, Inc. • West Virginia Highlands Conservancy • Western Environmental Law Center • Western Organization of Resource Councils • Western Watersheds Project • Whidbey Environmental Action Network • WILDCOAST • WildEarth Guardians • Wildlife Conservation Society • Wild Horse Education • Wild Nature Institute • Wilderness Workshop • Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah • Wings of Wonder • Wyoming Outdoor Council • Zumbro Valley Audubon