Environmental Review Rollbacks Would Slash Protections for Air, Water, Wildlife
WASHINGTON— The Trump administration today launched the largest rollback in history to the protections for air, water and wildlife provided by the National Environmental Policy Act.
In a request for public comment on “potential revisions,” the president’s Council on Environmental Quality initiated the assault on regulations outlining the 48-year-old law’s longstanding requirements for robust environmental assessments before approval of federal projects.
“The Trump administration is taking a sledgehammer to the review process that allows scientists and the public to have a say on federal projects that harm clean air, water and wildlife,” said Paulo Lopes, public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is the beginning of the largest rollback in the history of the National Environmental Policy Act, and it will yield polluted air, dirty water and devastation for our beautiful public lands.”
Much like when Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt allowed industry leaders to rewrite regulations protecting air, water and wildlife from pesticides and other pollutants, today’s request is essentially an invitation for corporate lobbyists to craft new, less-protective guidelines for environmental reviews.
To lay the groundwork for the planned regulatory cuts, Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality is preparing to roll out by year’s end a long list of proposed changes that will essentially end consequential environmental assessments of projects and eliminate meaningful input by scientists and the public.
Although the National Environmental Policy Act is not as well-known to many Americans as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, it underpins the requirement for thorough assessments of every federal project’s harms to air, water and protected species.
“It was the detailed input from researchers and citizens required by this landmark law that prompted the Obama administration to wisely deny approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Lopes. “If NEPA is gutted, the power plants and factories that corporations target for poor and under-represented communities will routinely be rubberstamped.”