WASHINGTON (January 9, 2020)—The Trump administration is proposing major changes to the way the National Environmental Policy Act is implemented—changes that would dramatically reduce the environmental review of major projects. Under the new rule, the federal government would limit opportunities for public comment and no longer consider a project’s long-term impacts, including on heat-trapping emissions causing climate change.
Below is a statement by Dr. Kathleen Rest, executive director of UCS.
“When the federal government takes an action, it’s obvious that we should consider the consequences to the people it could affect and the environment they live in. The government should be presenting its case to the public, making clear what the pluses and minuses are, offering alternatives, and giving communities a chance to offer their input. That’s what the NEPA process is for—and the Trump administration is abandoning those basic principles of public participation and evidence-based decisionmaking.
“Despite the administration’s deceptive rhetoric, these short-sighted and callous changes will not improve public well-being. Rather than pitting economic and public interests against each other, we know that a prosperous economy and a healthy environment can and must go hand-in-hand.
The Trump administration would allow powerful industries, like oil and gas extractors, to run roughshod over community interests. If this rule is implemented, hastily-considered, poorly-designed, damaging, and fossil fuel-intensive projects could proceed over public objections. The federal government would no longer have to consider the long-term cumulative impacts of projects, including the impact on the climate. It would deprive people of the information they need and their right to have a say in what happens in their own community.
“We’re going to scrutinize this proposal closely, but it’s clear the Trump administration intends to push public health, climate, and the public’s interest aside in the interest of helping politically powerful industries. That’s unacceptable.”