The Western Environmental Law Center recently sent this letter to the USFS, regarding a study in the Journal of Forestry on agency NEPA processes. The letter stats that “The conclusions of Fleischman et al. support the analysis and conclusions in our comments on the Forest Service’s proposed rule. The root causes of “delays” with NEPA analysis and completion are not due to the regulations or the law itself, but rather the way in which the Forest Service staffs, trains, and retains (or not) its employees, as well as declining congressional funding levels for mission-critical work.”
Greenwire has an article on this topic today:
A new study takes aim at the idea that environmental reviews take too long for timber and other projects in national forests.
Forrest Fleischman, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources, said his research largely shows the opposite: that the Forest Service completes environmental reviews faster than other federal agencies and that the vast majority of projects on land the service oversees proceed without a major hitch.
The real problem, Fleischman told E&E News, is staffing or funding shortages or both, and the difficulties seem to vary from Forest Service region to region.
“I think the main story is budgeting,” said Fleischman, who added that he had long accepted that the National Environmental Policy Act is a roadblock to forest management — a narrative popular with many Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration. “That really doesn’t seem to be the case.”