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EPA Releases Innovative Mapping Tool to Improve Environmental Reviews and Planning / NEPAssist part of CEQ initiative to increase efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the public release of a web-based mapping tool developed for Federal agencies to facilitate more efficient and effective environmental reviews and project planning. The tool, NEPAssist, is part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through innovation, public participation and transparency. NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development.
“NEPA helps ensure that Federal agencies protect the health of our communities and the natural resources that support our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “Making this tool available to the public will help make information more accessible, a key part of our effort to increase transparency for projects that impact American communities.”
“NEPAssist helps users identify the possible impacts of federal projects on local environments and communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making tools like NEPAssist available to the public, EPA is helping citizens to be involved in environmental decisions that affect their community.”
NEPA requires all federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary process. NEPAssist is designed to help promote collaboration and early involvement in the NEPA process by raising important environmental issues at the earliest stages of project development. The mapping tool can be used by Federal agencies to identify alternative project locations, to avoid and minimize impacts, as well as identify potential mitigation areas.
In October 2011, NEPAssist was selected as a White House Council on Environmental Quality National Environmental Policy Act Pilot Project to improve the efficiency of Federal environmental reviews. CEQ has selected five NEPA Pilot Projects that will employ innovative approaches to completing environmental reviews that can be replicated across the Federal Government. For more information on the NEPA Pilots Program, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/nepa-pilot-project.
More information on NEPA: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/index.html
More information on CEQ NEPA Pilot Projects: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/nepa/nepa-pilot-project
Here’s the link.
Praises Locally-Driven and Collaborative Public Process
Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Last week, Mark Udall sent a letter to President Obama urging him to quickly approve a Colorado Roadless Rule that has been under development since 2005 in order to alleviate uncertainty for communities and businesses. A thorough, locally-driven public process took into consideration hundreds of thousands of public comments to produce a rule that protects 4.2 million acres of Colorado backcountry. These National Forest lands are storehouses for clean water and protecting them also ensures that skiers and hikers have beautiful vistas, anglers have clean streams in which to fish, and hunters have healthy big-game herds. These resources attract visitors from all over the nation and world and are a critical component of our quality of life.
“Coloradans can and should be proud of this process; hard work, compromise and dedication to transparency produced a compromise in which almost no party got everything it wanted, but nearly all have agreed is fair. I believe this collaborative work deserves recognition,” Udall wrote in the letter. ”Delays in the adoption of a Colorado Roadless Rule have led to confusion and uncertainty and I urge its approval as soon as possible.”
The Colorado Roadless Rule was developed in an open and transparent process by Coloradans from a wide range of backgrounds including state and local elected officials, representatives from the ski industry, and the ranching, water law, forest management and environmental communities. The Rule protects 4.2 million acres while allowing some limited flexibility based on legitimate needs, such as to address forest-fire threats and insect infestations near certain communities, to accommodate ski area management, to continue underground coal production in the North Fork coal mining area, and to access and maintain water and utility corridors. However, because of a recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, some have urged the president to set aside this extensive public process and instead impose a federal rule. A swift approval of the Colorado Roadless Rule will acknowledge the collaborative work that has been underway since 2005, and provide certainty for our land managers, small businesses and the public.
Here’s a link to the letter.