President Trump signed an executive order on June 4 that waives requirements for environmental reviews. The administration said the move would boost the economy. Environmental advocates are against the change.
The order allows expedited construction and energy projects for federal agencies to step over environmental reviews of projects in the interest of speed of completion. Laws under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) require extensive environmental review before projects including highways or pipelines. This order reduces those requirements.
“From the beginning of my Administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly delays,” the order said. “The need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis.”
Environmental groups are expected to take legal action over the change. Christy Goldfuss, who works at the Center for American Progress and previously headed the White House Council on Environmental Quality under the Obama administration, spoke out against the order.
“This administration is removing phantom barriers that are at their essence protections for the very communities that are struggling most from the health impacts of air and water pollution. They’re trying to divert attention away from the crisis of racial injustice happening around the country, by giving agency leads the excuse to ram through polluting projects that will prop up the dying fossil fuel industry while destroying the very same communities that are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 and police violence, as well,” Goldfuss said.
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