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Firehole River at Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Diane Renkin/NPS, November 2019

Table of Contents

Proposed NEPA Regulations Gut Environmental Reviews & Public Input Process

 
Last week, the Trump Administration released its proposed rule to change the implementing regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the bedrock environmental law that requires the federal government to review the environmental impacts of its decisions and give the public a voice in federal decision-making. The proposed changes eviscerate the public’s right to be heard and jettison the requirement for science-based decision-making. The proposed rules would rollback virtually every NEPA requirement, including by completely eliminating environmental review for many types of projects, severely limiting the types of impacts that are assessed, making it harder for the public to provide input, placing arbitrary time and length limits on project reviews, and making it harder to file a legal challenge to a flawed environmental review. 

We strongly encourage all WPN members to engage in this critical fight to protect the NEPA process.
 
We are developing a group sign-on letter for WPN member organizations and partners to join, as well as sample letters to the editor, social media posts, and action alerts. Please look for this information in future emails and contact Ilana Rubin at rubini@nwf.org if you would like to get more involved or have questions. Additional ways to oppose the the rollbacks include:
  • Submit comments by March 10, 2020 under docket number CEQ-2019-0003: Submit comments online directly through regulations.gov, by fax to 202-456-6546, or by mail to Council on Environmental Quality, 730 Jackson Place NW, Washington, DC 20503.
  • Participate in the public hearings: February 11 in Denver, CO and February 25 in Washington, DC. More detailed hearing information, including how to register, should be posted here under "Proposed Rulemaking" at some point.
  • Email Ilana at rubini@nwf.org to add your organization's actions opposing the rollbacks to a list of example resources for WPN members.
Read the proposed rule in the Federal Register: Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, and find more information on the rulemaking here from the Council on Environmental Quality.

Actions from WPN Members opposing the rollbacks:

Learn more:

January 17: Science Advisory Board Meeting on Waters of the US Rule


The EPA Science Advisory Board is holding four public meetings on January 17, 21, 22, and 24 about its recent draft reports that are very critical of the scientific and technical basis of four EPA rule makings. The rule makings reviewed include the proposed rule to redefine the "Waters of the United States" protected under the Clean Water Act as well as the proposed rule titled "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science." The first meeting - on Friday, January 17 at 1:00 to 5:00 PM ET - will focus on the Science Advisory Board's Draft Commentary on the Proposed "Waters of the United States" Rule.
 

More information:

Water Resources Development Act Update


Congress continues working on the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the bill that authorizes projects and policy changes for the Corps of Engineers. The Senate is actively drafting and negotiating a WRDA bill and the House has started working on the bill as well.

Last week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on "Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2020," during which the Assistant Secretary to the Army-Civil Works R.D. James and Lt. General Todd Semonite testified. James and Semonite noted that they plan to release the Civil Works Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan that outlines the year's planned projects around February 11th, close to the release of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Among other topics, the hearing touched on the Corps' WRDA recommendations and the projects listed in its testimony, reforming the Corps' benefit-cost analysis, and promoting partnerships with non-federal sponsors. A few Members of Congress also questioned the Corps on the impact of the proposed NEPA regulations detailed above, which were released while the hearing was ongoing. Click here for a video of the hearing.

Click here to read about the Water Protection Network priorities for WRDA 2020 and stay tuned for further developments.

Selected News & Resources

 
A decade in review: 2020 Hindsight, a series from E&E News, including articles on Flint and water pollution, Sandy and disaster aid, and the Oroville Dam and aging infrastructure.
 
Pebble Mine news: From WPN member NRDC: Blog: Pebble Mine: Top Takeaways from 2019 and another blog: Alaska’s Governor Dunleavy: A Puppet for the Pebble Mine, referring to this investigate report by CNN. The Corps recently announced that the final impact statement will be delayed for 90 days.
 
Toxic waste and accountability: The Hill: Trump EPA has largest backlog of toxic waste cleanups in 15 years
 
Upcoming webinar: On January 29 at 2 PM ET, from 1000 Friends of Florida: Advancing Nature-Based Solutions for Hazard Mitigation

Recent Public Notices


The listings below are Corps of Engineers public notices from the Federal Register and Corps district websites, and select notices from other federal agencies. Please see past WPN Updates for notices published earlier and visit FederalRegister.gov, Corps division and district websites, and other federal agencies' websites for complete listings of public notices. Click here for examples of comments and letters submitted to the Corps by WPN members.
 

Corps of Engineers Notices

EPA Notices

Other Agency Notices

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