Townhall | Time to Bring the Environmental Impact Process Into the 21st Century

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When I was entering high school in the early 1970s, sit-ins for the environment and a new thing called Earth Day were all the rage. I wore a green and white striped eco-flag patch on my Army-surplus jacket. We identified with a non-partisan, global youth movement that was behind efforts to fight air and water pollution. When Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), I believed that America was doing the right thing to mandate an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for major projects that required federal approval.

Fifty years hence, I still believe in the spirit and goals of the environmental movement. Environmental stewardship is an ongoing mission for everyone. To that end, I also support the EIS process: It requires a conversation between project developers and the public. It ensures that projects meet agencies’ objective permit standards (e.g. limiting the parts per billion of pollutants coming out of a smokestack or a water pipe.) It promotes science as it makes sure agencies consider less tangible, values-based norms we share like respecting wilderness, open space, good hunting and fishing, diverse and abundant wildlife populations, and limiting noise, traffic, and other development impacts