DHS Environmental Procedures Promote Secrecy

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to hide Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), partially or in whole, from public disclosure. A June 14 directive published in the Federal Register would exempt the agency from a number of requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The directive applies to all agencies within DHS including the Transportation Security Administration, Energy Security and Assurance Program, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Coast Guard.

Under NEPA, federal agencies must consider the environmental impacts of proposed actions through the development of an Environmental Impact Statement. The public, as an affected stakeholder, plays a vital role in the developments of EIS and related analyses for any actions occurring in their communities.

The DHS directive would hide information that is “classified, protected, proprietary, or other information that is exempted from disclosure by the Freedom of Information Act …, critical infrastructure information …, sensitive security information …, and the DHS Management Directive 11042, ‘Safeguarding Sensitive But Unclassified (For Official Use Only) Information’.” This could include any EIS or its supporting analyses.

Status: The public comment period CLOSED Aug. 16 and DHS is reviewing comments.

Source: OMB Watcher and DHS website.

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