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Monday, April 04, 2016

Yes, Virginia, We Still Have a National Historic Preservation Act

There’ve been wild reports lately that the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) has been repealed.  Like reports of Mark Twain’s death, these stories have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve consulted a knowledgeable legal authority or two, and here’s what I’ve been given to understand:

1.       After its enactment in 1966, the NHPA was originally codified – that is embedded in the United States Code (USC) under Title 16

2.       Very technically speaking, the law as codified under that title was repealed - on 12/19/2014, by the National Park Service and Related Programs Act -- a housekeeping bill designed to impose better order on parts of the USC related to NPS..

3.       But it was immediately re-codified in Title 54 of the USC.

4.       So while it’s apparently technically correct to say that the NHPA was repealed, it was not really, substantively repealed; it’s in full force.

5.       And it’s still perfectly appropriate to refer to its various sections by their original designations (Section 106, Section 110, etc.). Those designations were not parts of the USC; they were section designators in the original bill as enacted by Congress. And none of the regulations have changed; Section 106 is still to be complied with per 36 CFR Part 800.

Clear as mud? Hey, this is Washington. Anyhow, the thing to know is that the law’s not gone away; it’s just got a new address.

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