On Wednesday, July 15, President Trump finalized his rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s most significant environmental laws.
The administration’s new regulations are expected to reduce the number of projects that will be subject to NEPA review and shorten the timeline for reviews and permits. The changes are meant to speed up federal projects such as mines, highways, and pipelines without consideration of the environmental effects of projects, such as their contribution to climate change.
For fifty years, NEPA has protected the environment and local communities from harmful federal projects. This act serves as a check on federal action: requiring the government to examine environmental impacts, consider public health concerns, and give the community a chance to voice their own opinions regarding the project. NEPA’s environmental review process allows the government to consider alternatives and mitigate environmental risks in a transparent manner. Most recently, the environmental review process sidelined major oil and gas pipeline projects, including the Keystone XL, the Dakota Access, and the Atlantic Coast pipelines.
Environmental advocates quickly denounced President Trump’s actions. Gina McCarthy, president, and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “People have a right to weigh in before a highway project tears up their neighborhood or a pipeline goes through their backyard. Steamrolling their concerns will mean more polluted air, more contaminated water, more health threats and more environmental destruction.”
Amidst public health crises of COVID-19 and racism, the changes to NEPA are particularly harmful as low-income communities and people of color have been burdened with higher levels of pollution and have been hit hardest by COVID-19. These communities have been historically excluded from political decision-making processes, and gutting NEPA will only exacerbate this fact by removing an opportunity for public input and further polluting these communities.
Weakening NEPA is one of the biggest deregulatory actions of the Trump administration, which has moved to roll back 100 environmental protections since he took office. Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, stated, “NEPA’s dismantling is a win for corruption, a win for polluters, and a win for those that profit off the destruction of our planet. Everyone else loses.”
Read more about Trump’s attacks on the environment including the Safe Drinking Water Act and plans to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Sign this petition to demand that the Trump administration dump these horrifying revisions to NEPA!
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