(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Trump administration today proposed sweeping changes to the environmental review process that would effectively exclude climate change from the impacts federal agencies must consider when evaluating major federal actions like large-scale infrastructure projects.
The proposal would also drastically restrict the kind of activities that require environmental review, set unrealistically tight deadlines for agencies to complete their reviews, and make it harder for the public to participate in the review process.
Proposed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the changes would rewrite the rules for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the nation’s bedrock environmental law. The 50-year-old statute requires the government to weigh the environmental consequences of major federal actions and gives citizens a formal role in that process.
Lisa Feldt, Vice President of Environmental Protection and Restoration for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), issued this statement about the proposal:
“The Trump administration’s attempt to gut this environmental review process is an alarming continuation of its regulatory rollback campaign. Refusing to consider how major projects could drive climate change ignores the effects we already feel. Low-lying areas of Norfolk and Maryland’s Eastern Shore are rapidly losing shoreline. Bay islands are shrinking, and rising waters are swallowing up critical wetlands. Climate change is a reality for the 18 million residents of the Bay watershed being hit by more frequent and intense storms and floods.
“This flawed proposal would also stifle the voices of citizens living on the front lines of projects like natural gas pipelines, which could destroy sensitive lands, foul local waterways, and jeopardize the health and livelihood of those nearby communities.
“The NEPA comment process has stood the test of time, allowing CBF and other advocates to make sure federal agencies weigh environmental threats since the 1970s. We cannot let the administration ignore local communities, whose input is essential to protecting national treasures like the Chesapeake Bay, or increase the severity of climate change effects that only add to the challenge of saving the Bay.”