WASHINGTON — Congressman Fred Keller (R) announced Thursday his support of President Donald Trump’s proposal to roll back some environmental oversight in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970.

“According to (Thursday’s) announcement, the changes to the review process will cut down on bureaucratic red tape and streamline project reviews that will allow critical projects affecting the national and local energy and infrastructure to come on line faster,” a press release from Keller’s office said.

According to the Associated Press, Trump’s proposal calls for greatly narrowing the scope of the half-century-old National Environmental Policy Act, signed by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970. It was one of the first of that era’s fundamental environmental laws, along with the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, that spelled out the country’s principal protections.

That National Environmental Policy Act required federal agencies to consider whether a project would harm the air, land, water or wildlife. It also gave the public, including people living in the neighborhood around a proposed dam, pipeline or other big project, the right of review and input. Congress said at the time that the nation was moving to “fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations.’’

Trump, who has targeted environmental rules in his drive to ease the way for business, said Thursday that enforcement of the law had slowed federal approval of projects.

“America’s most critical infrastructure projects have been tied up and bogged down by an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process,’’ he said. “The builders are not happy. Nobody’s happy.’’

Keller believes Trump’s proposal will help get some of those infrastructure projects moving.

“I thank President Donald Trump for taking steps to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act review process. With a more streamlined and less bureaucratic process, important infrastructure and energy projects at the national and local level can come on line to keep our economy rolling and further America’s path to energy independence, while balancing the need for environmental safeguards,” Keller said.

Keller blasted “out-of-date regulatory burdens” in the NEPA.

“America’s infrastructure and energy buildout should be the envy of the world and should not be held back by onerous, out-of-date regulatory burdens. Today’s announcement by the President is a tremendous step toward keeping America great.”

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or editor@morning-times.com. Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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