Trump Administration Proposes Major Changes To Bedrock Environmental Law

Katie Ramirez
January 12, 2020

Nobody is happy. It takes 20 years.

CEQ found that, on average, impact studies take 4.5 years to complete.

"It's big government at its absolute worst", Trump said. It also says that the time taken to complete an environmental impact statement is now nearly 5 years on average, and for highways has averaged over 7 years-leading to what the administration says is a hindrance for securing approval for road, bridge, airport, railway, and waterway projects.

Trump said the changes would deliver "gleaming new infrastructure" to the United States and would "completely overhaul the dysfunctional bureaucratic system that has created these massive obstructions. Nothing would eliminate protections Congress has enacted to safeguard the American people".

Neumayr insisted that the proposed rule would impact the governmental process, not environmental standards. "Non-federal" projects receiving limited government money would be exempt, for example. "That is not responsible governing".

"Today's destructive actions by Trump, if not blocked by the courts or immediately reversed by the next president, will have reverberations for decades to come", said Rebecca Concepcion Apostol, US programme director at Oil Change International, an environmental group.

A key part of the administration's proposed changes centers on whether agencies must consider the cumulative effects of a project such as a pipeline.

Environmental groups were not satisfied that the moves would sufficiently protect the environment, wildlife habitats and the health of American communities impacted by major infrastructure projects.

Incident at Pickering Nuclear Plant
The City of Pickering also confirmed the mistake, tweeting that the emergency alert issued by the Province was in fact an error. Approximately 73,000 litres of demineralized water leaked from the station in 2011, causing no known impacts to human health.

Outlining the new policy flanked by local officials and workers in hard hats at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that his goal is "fixing this regulatory nightmare".

The Natural Resources Defense Council described the proposal as "Trump's latest environmental attack" and "a change that will affect all of our lives" hidden behind "complicated policy".

Regulations of the environmental law, which are considered by supporters a bedrock environmental statute, require detailed environmental reviews for major private projects seeking federal funding, such new oil and gas pipelines. "We don't want it to be at the detriment of the environment that you do it". This is the requirement courts have pointed to in mandating that agency reviews include an assessment of how a project will contribute to the climate crisis, The New York Times explained.

CEQ's efforts spring from a 2017 Executive Order that directed it to "enhance and modernize the Federal environmental review and authorization process" by, among other initiatives, ensuring "that agencies apply NEPA in a manner that reduces unnecessary burdens and delays as much as possible, including by using CEQ's authority to interpret NEPA to simplify and accelerate the NEPA review process".

Sen. Ed Markey of MA said the Trump administration's move was the "equivalent of shutting down 911" in the midst of a "climate emergency".

U.S. Sens. Maria Cantell, D-Wash., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., were quick to slam the proposal for excluding climate change as one of the environmental impacts agencies would need to consider under NEPA.

After a barrage of questions on Iran and impeachment, the president, who has called global warming "a total, and very expensive, hoax", responded to the lone environmental question by saying "nothing's a hoax" about global warming.

"The National Association of Realtors is confident that the reforms announced today will remove the barriers standing in the way of infrastructure improvements that stimulate economic growth and create jobs", National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta said January 9.

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