The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today submitted comments supporting the Biden administration’s proposal to restore important protections to the rules for reviewing the environmental impacts of federal projects. CBF filed joint comments with the Choose Clean Water Coalition, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, and the Healing Our Waters—Great Lakes Coalition.
The proposal would reinstate the requirement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that federal agencies evaluate the cumulative effects of projects, including by examining the full range of climate change impacts and assessing the consequences of releasing additional pollutions into communities already overburdened by polluted air or water.
It would also reestablish that the federal rules for implementing NEPA represent the minimum, rather than the maximum, standards agencies must meet in deciding whether to issue a permit for a federally funded project such as building a natural gas pipeline. The White House Council on Environmental Quality is responsible for developing the regulations and guidance on how federal agencies administer NEPA.
The proposal is the first of two phases of changes the Biden White House plans to make to the Trump administration’s rollback of NEPA implementing rules in 2020. This initial phase is narrowly focused and the second is expected to propose broader changes, although a timetable for its release has not been set.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko released the following statement:
“This proposal is a promising first step towards reversing the serious damage the Trump administration did to the environmental review process.
“The impacts from climate change, like more frequent and intense storms and rising waters, are already battering Bay region communities and businesses, and making Bay restoration more difficult. Reinstating the requirement to examine how a project will add to the cumulative effects of climate change is essential to protecting the watershed and its more than 18 million people from this deadly threat.
“Many of our region’s underrepresented communities are overburdened as it is by multiple sources of pollution. Requiring federal agencies to again assess how a project would further foul the air, land, and water in these communities is vital to ensuring environmental justice for all.
“CBF urges the Biden administration to quickly finalize these initial improvements and release the second round of changes so federal permitting decisions are again based on a comprehensive review of a project’s potential effect on local communities and the surrounding environment.”
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