Congress Holds the Fate of Your Rivers, Coasts and Wetlands in Their Hands!

Scenic Seedskadee NWR river sunset in early winter w mountains in back 4(1)
Don’t allow scenic rivers like these be harmed by a rushed environmental review process (photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

At this very moment members of Congress are in the process of finalizing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bill which authorizes the study and construction of new water projects, and makes policy changes to the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) does business.

Over the past months the House and Senate passed their own versions of the bill and now a Conference Committee (certain members of the House and Senate) are in negotiations to produce a final bill. There is no set timeline for how long this conference will take—it could be done next week, or in the next few months—but as it proceeds, it is of the utmost importance to voice strong opposition to the harmful environmental “streamlining” provisions that were in both bills.

Environmental Review is Good for Wildlife, People, and Taxpayers

Corps projects have a profound impact on the environment, wildlife, public safety, and your tax dollars.  Instead of requiring that the Corps take all possible steps to protect the environment, members of congress have chosen to use this WRDA as a vehicle to attack the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a landmark law that has protected people, wildlife, and ecosystems for over forty years.

Some claim that environmental review is the reason that projects are not constructed quickly. FALSE! Projects are actually delayed because Congress does not appropriate enough funds each year to cover the immense and growing backlog of Corps projects.

Rather than address the real problem, some in Congress have opted to use this false perception to push through a slew of provisions that will undermine longstanding environmental protections. They call it environmental streamlining, I say it’s environmental steamrolling.

LA black bear
Don’t let this black bear’s home be destroyed by harmful water projects that are not properly vetted by NEPA (photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
One of the most disconcerting provisions will rush the review of environmental impact statements. The changes will force resource agencies to speed through these critical reviews and will continue to allow unnecessarily harmful projects to be approved. Would you feel comfortable if your doctor had an unreasonably short window to operate on you; do you really think that a doctor could safety operate in say, ten minutes? I wouldn’t want a doctor to rush through my operation and I certainly don’t want agencies to rush through review of a water project that could potentially jeopardize my health and well-being.

Similarly, in an attempt to restrict the scope of NEPA, members have included provisions in the bills that limit expert input, transparency, and public participation during the development and study of water projects. The study process provides a a crucial opportunity for the public to provide substantial input and ensure that the project will not have a detrimental impact on their community. The public is paying for Corps projects and has to deal with their consequences.  Members of the public deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard. Do not let Congress cut you out of the process; demand transparency and the right to provide meaningful input into water project studies.

Take a stand and make sure your waters are protected!

Contact these members of Congress and tell them: don’t cut the public out of the review process!

Conference Committee Members
House of Representatives
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
John Duncan (R-TN)
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Sam Graves (R-MO)
Shelley Capito (R-WV)
Candice Miller (R-MI)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Larry Bucshon (R-IN)
Bob Gibbs (R-IN)
Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)
Tom Rice (R-SC)
Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Corinne Brown (D-FL)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Tim Bishop (D-NY)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
John Garamendi (D-CA)
Janice Hahn (D-CA)
Rick Nolan (D-MN)
Lois Frankel (D-FL)
Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
David Vitter (R-LA)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
John Barasso (R-WY)

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