Left Menu
Development News Edition

U.S. Forest Service aims to speed up logging, infrastructure projects

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 13-06-2019 03:48 IST | Created: 13-06-2019 03:45 IST
U.S. Forest Service aims to speed up logging, infrastructure projects
Image Credit: JPL-NASA

The U.S. Forest Service, which manages millions of acres of national forests and grasslands, on Wednesday proposed "bold" changes for how it carries out environmental reviews of logging, road building and mining projects on public land, a move that raised red flags for environmental groups.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service published proposed changes for how it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a decades-old law that requires detailed analysis to be conducted before approving projects that could significantly affect the environment. The agency's proposals include vastly expanding the categories of project types that would be excluded from lengthy environmental assessments or impact studies, which it says would "save time and resources" and make it easier to repair infrastructure like roads, trails and campgrounds and protect the public from wildfires.

"With millions of acres in need of treatment, years of costly analysis and delays are not an acceptable solution," said USDA Secretary Sunny Perdue. It is the latest move by the Trump administration to streamline infrastructure projects on federal land and follows the lead of the Interior Department, which last year proposed major changes in how it follows the NEPA process, including cutting environmental reviews down to two years.

The administration is also expected later this month to complete the first major overhaul of NEPA in decades. Environmental groups have warned that efforts to streamline the NEPA process curtail public input.

"This is in line with the Trump administration's approach to cutting the public out of the process to protect public land," said Randi Spivak of the Center for Biological Diversity. The Forest Service is proposing to create a new list of "categorical exclusions," a classification under NEPA that excludes certain routine activities, such as restoration projects, roads and trails management, from time-consuming environmental assessments or environmental impact statements.

It would also enable major projects that would normally require a detailed environmental impact study to skip such a review if its proponents can find a previous analysis of a similar type of project. Susan Brown, a lawyer with the Western Environment Law Center, said the exclusions would enable miles of road construction, open thousands of acres of land at a time to logging and allow mining exploration without an extensive review.

"These are not minor tweaks. This is major," said Brown. "This proposed rule would hide a lot from the public." Brown said that cutting the public out of the NEPA process does not speed up projects but forces environmental groups to take legal action.

"The only thing this is going to result in is more lawsuits," she said.



Why COVID-19 is unstoppable in USA despite it being ranked at the top of GHS Index?

Several worst-hit countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Russia have peaked COVID-19 cases in April. Almost all of them have gradually flattened the curve. However, the USA is setting new daily records of infections tha...

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...


Latest News

Boatload of amicus briefs filed in case against Trump administration order on F-1 visas

A large number of amicus briefs were filed on Monday in a case related to student visa restrictions that US federal authorities announced last week. The briefs were filed in the case filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institu...

COVID-19: UN and partners work to ensure learning never stops for young refugees

Global advocates for refugees are pushing to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic does not derail efforts for displaced children and young people to continue learning and eventually return to a real classroom.During a roundtable discussion held onl...

FIR against Jabalpur official for organising wedding function, violating COVID-19 guidelines

An FIR has been registered against the Additional Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation for organising a wedding function at a city based hotel on June 30, the district magistrate said. Bharat Yadav, Jabalpur District Magistrate said, S...

U.S. rejects China's claims in S. China Sea, adding to tensions

The United States on Monday rejected Chinas disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, a move that Beijing criticized as inciting tensions in the region and which highlighted an increasingly testy relationship. Ch...

Give Feedback