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February 11, 2020

White House Faced Widespread Opposition to NEPA Rollbacks in Denver

Despite inclement weather, locals and impacted community members turned out over proposal to streamline bedrock environmental & civil rights law

Contacts

Liz Trotter, Earthjustice 

Denver, CO

Today, indigenous leaders, local activists, and impacted community members turned out for the first round of public hearings in order to voice their concerns over the Trump administration’s proposal to gut core components of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA.) The successful law forces government agencies to consider environmental impacts and communities before executing projects. The law has protected communities nationwide, however in Colorado it is responsible for stopping drilling in the North Fork Valley, protected several National Forests from being clear-cut, as well as protecting the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Despite considerable national attention to the issue, the Trump administration decided to only hold public hearings for the rollback proposal in two cities — both of which sold out in minutes. The hearings were held at inconvenient times for working people and the administration has shown no real indication that it will listen to those voices it actually heard.

“The White House completely underestimated the American people,“ said Stephen Schima, senior legislative counsel of Earthjustice. “NEPA has been vital in protecting vulnerable communities and now the White House is trying to gut it so that industry can have another handout? Not on our watch. Today, attendees showed the Trump admin that attempting to silence them by limiting public hearings and rolling back critical laws is only fueling their fire.”

“The National Environmental Policy Act gave Coloradans one of their only tools forcing the government to consider safer alternatives, and consider the effects of massive new oil and gas development on air quality. If President Trump gets his way, industry and government may be able to sweep the damage they will cause under the rug,” said Ean Thomas Tafoya, Greenlatinos and Colorado Latino Forum.

Community leaders whose efforts made NEPA possible

Community leaders heightened the national consciousness of the effects of environmental degradation on communities throughout the second half of the 20th century. In 1969, Congress passed NEPA to create a policy that equally weighed environmental impacts and the voices of communities when federal agencies developed infrastructure projects.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.