The Bush Administration has decided that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is too bureaucratic to follow when it comes to building a fence along the border to keep out illegal immigrants. Accordingly, it will waive NEPA for this one project. NEPA allows environmentalists and others to demand environmental reviews of federal activities that might impact the environment. Reviews can take decades and lead to protracted litigation.
“Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation,” Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is quoted in today’s Washington Post. But if the Act is a bureaucratic/litigation nightmare, why don’t they consider fixing the law rather than waiving here and there? NEPA is causing lots of problems as the greens have been using it to tie up a host of activities that affect federal lands. For example, they have been able to prevent logging operations and other activities in the national forests for decades. As a result, forests have built up dead and dying trees that have fueled the massive forest fires out west. Rather than simply waiving such problematic laws, it’s time that Washington lawmakers reformed them.