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NRDC's EARTH ACTION: January 26, 2006 10:11 AM

NRDC's EARTH ACTION:
The Bulletin for Environmental Activists

January 26, 2006
========================================
In This Issue:

--Action Alerts--

1. Tell the Bush administration not to weaken protections for our national parks

2. Don't let Congress gut one of America's bedrock environmental laws

======================================================
You will also find these alerts in NRDC'S Earth Action Center, which includes
tools for taking action easily online, at http://www.nrdc.org/action

(Please do not reply to this message; see the instructions below for how to
unsubscribe or contact NRDC with questions or comments.)

=============
Action Alerts
=============

1. Tell the Bush administration not to weaken protections for our national parks

America's national parks inspire, amaze and educate hundreds of millions of
visitors every year. The National Park Service is the agency responsible for
preserving and maintaining the parks, guided by longstanding management
policies that give top priority to preserving the parks for the use of future
generations.

The Park Service's management policies were last updated in 2001, after a
thorough and collaborative seven-year process involving Park Service staff and
the American public. But now the Bush administration is trying to hastily
rewrite the policies in ways that would no longer consistently give top
priority to preserving park resources.

The proposed new policies no longer contain the clear unambiguous statement
that park protection should always trump recreation. For example, the proposed
revisions would eliminate restrictions against interference with
the "atmosphere of peace and tranquility, or the natural soundscapes" of the
parks, which would mean more motorized jet skis, off-road vehicles and other
noisy recreational vehicles roaring through our parks. Other policies that
would be weakened include those that protect wilderness and air and water
quality and control damage from livestock.

The Bush administration is accepting public comments on its revised national
parks policies through February 18th.

== What to do ==
Send a message, before the February 18th comment deadline, urging the Bush
administration not to rewrite the policies for managing our national parks and
to keep preserving the parks as the Park Service's top priority.

== Contact information ==
You can send an official comment directly from NRDC's Earth Action Center at
http://www.nrdc.org/action/. Or use the contact information and sample letter
below to send your own message.

Bernard Fagan
National Park Service
Office of Policy, Room 7252
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Email:  waso_policy@nps.gov

== Sample letter ==

Subject:  Don't rewrite national park management policies

Dear Mr. Fagan,

I strongly urge you to abandon the rewriting of the national park management
policies and keep the 2001 policies intact. The current policies are serving
the parks well, and revising them now is unnecessary and would be a burden on
the cash-strapped Park Service.

The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve our national parks
unimpaired for future generations. The proposed policy revisions dangerously
veer away from this mission and could result in devastating harm to our parks
by redefining the longstanding legal mandate that clearly prioritizes the
preservation of park resources.

The Department of the Interior has given no clear justification for why the
proposed policy revisions would eliminate restrictions against interference
with the "atmosphere of peace and tranquility, or the natural soundscapes" of
the parks, which would make it easier for noisy motorized recreation to expand
within park boundaries. Other policies that would be weakened include those
that protect wilderness and air and water quality and control livestock damage.

The last time the management policies were revised, it was a thorough,
collaborative, seven-year process. The haste in which this rewrite is being
conducted is unprecedented, and leaves very little time for the public to
review and comment in a thoughtful way.

Again, I urge you to abandon this revision effort and to retain the 2001
management policies as the operative national park management policies.

Sincerely,

[Your name and address]

2. Don't let Congress gut one of America's bedrock environmental laws

The National Environmental Policy Act is a landmark environmental law that has
protected America's natural heritage for more than 30 years. NEPA requires
federal agencies to study and disclose the environmental effects of their
actions and to review major projects for potential environmental and public
health impacts. The law also ensures that the public is included in decisions
concerning proposed federal projects. When enforced, NEPA protects local
communities and promotes sound, inclusive decisionmaking.

While many agree that the act could work better, the Bush administration and
some members of Congress are using the pretense of "improving and updating" the
law to try to undermine its core pr  [ send green star]
 
 January 26, 2006 10:12 AM

 provisions. By chipping away at NEPA, the Bush
administration would have even greater ability to open up America's last
remaining wildlands to rampant energy development, logging and other
destructive activities.

As part of the effort to undercut NEPA, a House Resources Committee task force
issued a draft report late last year -- without input from Democratic task
force members -- calling for fundamental changes to the law that could easily
be used as a springboard for anti-NEPA legislation this spring. Specifically,
the report recommends restricting the public's ability to participate in and
challenge an agency's decisionmaking process, and requiring that "reasonable
alternatives" to federal projects be supported by sizable studies. Both of
these provisions would tilt the scale in favor of industry over the American
public.

The task force is accepting comments on its draft report until February 6th.

== What to do ==
Send a message, before the February 6th comment deadline, showing your support
for NEPA and urging the task force to reconsider the draft report's
recommendations.

== Contact information ==
You can send an official comment to the NEPA Task Force directly from NRDC's
Earth Action Center at http://www.nrdc.org/action/. Or use the contact
information and sample letter below to send your own message.

NEPA Draft Report Comments
c/o NEPA Task Force
House Resources Committee
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Email: nepataskforce@mail.house.gov
Fax:  202-225-5929

== Sample letter ==

Subject: Don't weaken NEPA

Dear NEPA Task Force Members,
 
I am very concerned that the recommendations made by the National Environmental
Policy Act Task Force would weaken NEPA in profound and fundamental ways. NEPA
is the best tool Americans have to learn how federal projects may affect them.
It also is the best tool the federal government has to examine proposed
projects and obtain public input. By making sure that the public is informed
and that alternatives are considered, NEPA has stopped some unwise and harmful
projects and made countless projects better.
 
Even though the draft report acknowledges that public participation is
fundamental to NEPA's success, the task force has made several recommendations
that would dramatically limit public involvement in the NEPA process.
Specifically the recommendations would 1) add mandatory timelines for the
completion of NEPA documentation and only allow for occasional extensions; 2)
place significant restrictions on a citizen's ability to participate in the
public process and to challenge an agency's decisionmaking; and 3) require
that "reasonable alternatives," including those proposed by individual citizens
or community groups, be supported by "feasibility and engineering studies,"
which could require significant technical and financial resources.

I urge you to reject any recommendations to amend NEPA and embark on drastic
regulatory changes that would reduce public participation. Thoughtful analysis
and review of NEPA have long recognized a need, however, to improve NEPA
implementation. Requiring monitoring of project impacts, improving management
oversight and providing agency staff with adequate training and resources are
all good ideas that should be considered and would not require amending NEPA or
its regulations. 

I strongly urge the task force to reconsider its recommendations. 

Sincerely,

[Your name and address]

========================
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==========
About NRDC
==========

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization
with more than one million members and online activists, and a staff of
scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Our mission is to protect the
planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for
all living things.

For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please
contact us at:

Natural Resources Defense Council
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New York, NY 10011
212-727-4511 (voice) / 212-727-1773 (fax)
Email: nrdcaction@nrdc.org
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Also visit:
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A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.savebiogems.org

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