Letter to Secretary Zinke on DOI Order to Steamroll National Environmental Policy Act

On August 31, 2017, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued an Order to steamroll National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation and review processes. Calling NEPA analyses “needlessly complex,” the Order issued arbitrary page number limitations and time limits for NEPA documentation, namely environmental impact statements. The page limits were not met routinely during the last two administrations, mostly to avoid lawsuits because the NEPA analyses were inadequate.

In issuing the Order, however, DOI failed to provide any evidence that NEPA analyses are indeed overly complex or that they have caused infrastructure project delays. To clarify DOI’s rationale for issuing the Order, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting data that may have been used to substantiate the claims made in the Order, including documentation and length of said project delays, instances in which NEPA documents were too lengthy, and rationale for time limits. The letter also seeks to understand how NEPA analyses that exceed the time limits due to external factors. 

Related Files