The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently working to reconcile their versions of the Water Resources Development Act, which both chambers approved this year by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, an unusual achievement in a Congress that has agreed on so little.
Boxer wrote language into the bill that expedites environmental impact reviews so projects can be approved more quickly, drawing praise from Republicans and business groups that consider the process burdensome. But the language disappointed environmental groups, which otherwise consider the four-term senator one of their staunchest allies in Congress.
Some of Boxer’s fellow Democrats and the Obama administration have expressed concern about the provisions.
Environmentalists have said the expedited reviews would undercut environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. They said it would give too much power to the corps and take away opportunities for the public to participate in the review process.
“You need to have checks and balances on the Corps of Engineers,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.