6 Alaska Projects, 600 Nationwide Face Delay After "Absurd" Restroom Ruling
Murkowski Questions Red Tape Ruling, How Many Mining Jobs Are At Stake
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski today questioned U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell about a recent 9th Circuit Court decision requiring environmental reviews for even the smallest projects, including the renovation of bathrooms at a Texas campground. Murkowski pointed out this additional and unnecessary legal hurdle could add months to projects like the Niblack and Greens Creek Mine.
“This will mean that simple routine tasks that have no environmental impact will be subject to full notice, public comment, and appeal,” Murkowski noted. “This is already causing absurd consequences. …. If a project as routine as replacing a bathroom in a campground is now subject to appeal, it is hard for me to imagine any Forest Service action that some group could not appeal or delay.
“In a time of extremely tight resources, this will waste enormous amounts of time and increase the costs of getting necessary work done.”
Senator Murkowski asked USFS Chief Tidwell how many projects would be at potential risk of added delays. Tidwell told her 6 Alaskan projects and 600 nationwide – and the jobs they create – may end up in the air for as many as 140 days due to this issue. Tidwell did not know off-hand the total number of jobs affected, but told Murkowski he would find out and get back to her.
On March 19, the 9th Circuit in California found in Sequoia Forestkeeper v. Tidwell that the agency’s use of “categorical exclusions” under NEPA violates the Appeals Reform Act and enjoined the Forest Service from using these exclusions nationwide without providing for notice, comment, and appeal.