Trump moves to overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act

  

Category:  Environment/Climate

Via:  ender  •  last year  •  37 comments

By:    Emma Newburger

Trump moves to overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



KEY POINTS



  • The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled significant changes to the National Environmental Policy Act that would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change.
  • The White House proposal would no longer require federal environmental review of construction projects that lack substantial government funding.
  • Environmentalists say the rules would endanger wildlife and lead to more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere

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President Donald Trump speaks during an event to announce proposed rollbacks to the National Environmental Policy Act regulations in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, January 9, 2020.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters


The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled significant changes to the nation’s landmark environmental law that would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change.

Many of the White House’s proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act have been supported by business groups that contend the law has delayed or blocked projects like laying out oil pipelines and building dams and mines, among other things.




Environmentalists said that the rules would endanger wildlife and lead to more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and contend that the regulations should be strengthened not weakened as the world copes with global warming.

If the proposals are enacted, it would be the first overhaul of NEPA in more than 40 years.

The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, would no longer require any form of federal environmental review of construction projects that lack substantial government funding. The change would also widen the category of projects that will be exempt from NEPA regulations.

“We want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, bigger, better fast and we want to build them at less cost,” President Donald Trump said at the White House on Thursday.

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Native Americans march to a burial ground sacred site that was disturbed by bulldozers during building of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), near the encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest of the oil pipeline, September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images



The move is the latest effort by the Trump administration   to roll back a slew of environmental regulations   in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural habitats from drilling and development.


The changes are expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. There will be a 60-day comment period and two open hearings before the final regulation is delivered.

The administration has argued that the law can increase costs for builders, block construction projects and threaten jobs for American workers and labor union members.

“The step we’re taking today, which will ultimately lead to final regulations, I believe will hit a home run in delivering better results to the American people by cutting red tape that has paralyzed common sense decision making for a generation,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Thursday.

Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said that the president’s plan is exactly what his group wanted.

“Our efforts should be used for building the infrastructure Americans desperately need, not wasted on mountains of paperwork and endless delay,” he said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, argued that the changes prioritize polluters and corporations over the environment.

“This NEPA rewrite favors big polluters and corporate profits over balanced, science-based decision making and would prevent Washingtonians from voicing their views on proposals ranging from siting a new fossil fuel pipeline in their backyard to building an open-pit mine that could destroy the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery,” she said in a statement.

“We need to make smarter environmental decisions, not roll back the safeguards we already have,” Cantwell said.

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Crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp. in Atoka, Okla.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images



The administration’s proposed changes might not make it through court, according to Bruce Huber, an environmental law professor at Notre Dame Law School.

“The law requires federal agencies to report the environmental impacts of their actions that significantly affect ‘the quality of the human environment,’” he said. “If the regulations announced today drive agencies to diminish the extent or quality of their reporting, federal courts may very well conclude that their reports do not comply with the law.”

William Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the White House’s proposal is consistent with other environmental regulation rollbacks.

“This is all about the election and Trump getting out there and shoring up his base,” Snape said. “The Trump administration has been losing more cases than it’s winning in oil and gas – and this is a chance to blame someone else.”

— CNBC’s   Lauren Hirsch   contributed reporting







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Ender
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Ender    last year
The American Petroleum Institute said in a statement that the order reflects recommendations the oil industry lobby group submitted to the Commerce Department in March. The National Association of Home Builders also praised the Trump administration’s move, saying the flood rules had raised the cost of housing.

But the environmental group Oil Change International said the order would silence local communities that have safety and environmental concerns about major projects like pipelines.

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The Trump administration has issued dozens of rules and orders to reverse Obama-era regulations addressing climate change and its consequences such as rising sea levels and more severe storms.

The Obama-era standard required that builders factor in scientific projections for increased flooding and ensure projects can withstand rising sea levels and stronger downpours.

It required all federal agencies apply the standard to public infrastructure projects from housing to highways.

Rafael Lemaitre, former director of public affairs at FEMA who worked on the Obama-era order, said Trump is undoing “the most significant action taken in a generation” to safeguard U.S. infrastructure.

“Eliminating this requirement is self-defeating; we can either build smarter now, or put taxpayers on the hook to pay exponentially more when it floods. And it will,” he said.

Link

So who cares, build in flood zones...

Seems to me this would cost more in the long run when housing and roads get flooded.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2  seeder  Ender    last year

Environment be damned...Build..Build..Build...

Bwuaahahaha

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
3  Ed-NavDoc    last year

I'm a conservative right leaning Independent, but I also believe this is a big mistake on the part of Trump administration.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3    last year

They are saying this too will wind up in the courts.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
3.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Ender @3.1    last year

I hope they do. Those regulations were put in place for very good reasons. They need to stay in place.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
4  CB     last year

All I want for. . .the new year is a government that is not its own worse enemy. Why indeed does the public have to become an expert of sorts on every nit-picking set of facts and issues? Can't these sorry state employees and politicians-national staff and congresspeople, given reasonable salaries, reasonable educations, hold each other accountable to the truth? Who in heaven needs to argue whether it is sensible to let the climate run-amok under human stewarship? Commonsense and a common need to survive should inform us all to tread lightly into a murkiness of what we can not fully comprehend and not to running full bore towards what we know not!

It is so tiring. I can see why the public checks out of the discussions over time. It's burn-out! I have often stated that not all money is good money. And it's true—not if you have to 'kill' innocent people to get it!

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  CB @4    last year

Imo this is what it is all about. Letting corporations rape and pillage for money, consequences be damned.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.2  seeder  Ender  replied to    last year

So environmental regulations be damned. Not all places can or should be developed.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.5  seeder  Ender  replied to    last year

Just because your family had land taken fifty years ago doesn't mean regulations should be laxed or gotten rid of.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5  JBB    last year

Conservation "used to be" a conservative principle...

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5.2  seeder  Ender  replied to  JBB @5    last year

I don't know if I would call trump a conservative. More of a corporatist.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
5.2.1  XXJefferson51  replied to  Ender @5.2    last year

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5.2.2  seeder  Ender  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.2.1    last year

Stop spamming.

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
5.2.3  pat wilson  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.2.1    last year

256

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
6  Tacos!    last year
Environmentalists said that the rules would endanger wildlife and lead to more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere

Would it? How do they know? What are they talking about? All wildlife? How much more CO2? Enough that it matters?

We need to move past the extremism of "all regulations are good and should never be repealed" vs. "all regulations are bad and destroy freedom." Some regulations are necessary. Some are just legislative posturing. Some regs that were once useful are no longer relevant. Some were well intentioned but turned out to do more harm than good, on balance. We should be willing to examine them all with an open mind.

it would be the first overhaul of NEPA in more than 40 years

Whether the current administration wants to look at adding or deleting regs, that should not prompt a "sky is falling" response. 40 years is plenty of time to see if a reg is a net plus or minus. Look at what's working and keep it. If it's only doing minimal good but strangling freedom and productivity, maybe it should be amended or scrapped.

Human beings living on Earth are always going to be striding some kind of line balancing advancement with respect for our environment. We shouldn't be building just everything that occurs to us, but we also aren't going to be able to preserve every little thing, either.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6.1  seeder  Ender  replied to  Tacos! @6    last year

If it has been in place for fifty years, it has not put a stop to any growth.

Dismiss it all you want, it is ridiculous to say productivity and growth should supersede the environment that sustains us.

If that means one less strip mall over wetlands, so be it.I think we will survive.

One persons freedom does not mean a freedom to violate the land we all need and enjoy.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
6.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Ender @6.1    last year
If it has been in place for fifty years, it has not put a stop to any growth.

I don't understand that logic. Aren't some regulations literally designed to limit or stop certain kinds of growth? And if they aren't accomplishing that goal, then they're useless, aren't they?

Dismiss it all you want

What is it you think I'm dismissing?

it is ridiculous to say productivity and growth should supersede the environment that sustains us

Did somebody say that?

One persons freedom does not mean a freedom to violate the land we all need and enjoy.

Are you referring to something specific? Or is that a platitude?

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6.1.2  seeder  Ender  replied to  Tacos! @6.1.1    last year

I think you are dismissing what trump is trying to do.

Environmental regulations are not meant to stop growth, we both know that.

Did banning aerosols stop growth? No it did not. They are designed to do exactly what they are designed to do.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
6.1.3  Tacos!  replied to  Ender @6.1.2    last year
I think you are dismissing what trump is trying to do.

I don't think so. My mind is open to the potential of it. If we can find a way to ease the burden on private enterprise without recklessly endangering the environment, I think that's a good thing. I hope the people who look at this have a respect for both concerns.

Environmental regulations are not meant to stop growth, we both know that.

Some of them are specifically about that, so I guess we don't both know that. I live in a town that actually has regulations that limit new building because we are trying to preserve open, green spaces and also because we don't want tall buildings or big signs. The people who live here don't want the town to get bigger.

Even when a regulation isn't specifically trying to limit or stop development, the people who are writing the law know very well that is the effect it will have. It's disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

Did banning aerosols stop growth? No it did not.

Sure it did. It stopped growth in the aerosol industry. In fact, it killed it. On balance, I would say that's a good thing. That's actually not a great example, because it's one of the few times that such a broad and diverse majority of the population came together to support an environmental law with such a dramatic impact on an industry.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6.1.4  seeder  Ender  replied to  Tacos! @6.1.3    last year

Problem I see is this roll back glosses over environmental concerns.

All towns have their own rules and regulations. Isn't freedom grand. Some towns in this area limit signs on size, height and proximity to roadways.

And yes of course the laws are to limit what people can do otherwise they would pollute without care. They are not meant to stifle prosperity or growth. If one persons growth endangers others around them, would that not stop the growth of the people endangered?  Would one rather have a factory or a polluted lake that cannot sustain life... If one factory is harming the people around it, is it worth the healthcare costs that would be involved?

This is not about local laws and regulations, this is about national standards and practices.

I am a firm believer that we can advance into the 21st century, keep economic growth, while at the same time abandon 19th century ways and means.

 
 
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