American Sheep Industry Association

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On Thursday, the Council on Environmental Quality released a notice of proposed rulemaking to update the National Environmental Policy Act. Signed into law in 1970, NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions.

Since that time, NEPA analysis has grown, with the average environmental impact statement ballooning to more than 600 pages and taking four and half years to complete. ASI President Benny Cox said this modernization represents a tremendous step in the right direction.

“Those operating on federal grazing permits and those who rely on USDA Wildlife Services predator management are familiar with the cumbersome and prolonged NEPA process, which has become an all too frequent toehold for frivolous litigation,” said Cox. “ASI has long had policy urging federal land management agencies to reduce unnecessary burdens and delays through the use of categorical exclusions, and that is a key element of this proposed rule.”

In addition to the use of efficient reviews using categorical exclusions and environmental assessments where appropriate, the proposed rule sets a presumptive timeline of two years for the completion of an environmental impact statement. Through these actions, the goal is to reduce paperwork and delays, promoting better decision making by federal agencies.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment at, Docket ID No. CEQ-2019-0003 through March 10. Sheep producers are encouraged to comment before the deadline.