Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) took the first step in rolling back former President Donald Trump’s sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that fundamentally undermined federal agency responsibilities to consider the health and environmental impacts of government actions. The Biden administration’s proposed rule will restore long-standing provisions in NEPA that require comprehensive analysis of project impacts and reinstate meaningful public input in the decision-making process.
The following is a statement from Stephen Schima, a senior legislative counsel leading NEPA advocacy work for Earthjustice:
“This proposal from CEQ is a positive first step toward restoring the integrity of NEPA and giving environmental justice communities the voice and the agency to determine what projects are built in their neighborhoods. This critical law has played an undeniable role in giving communities the legal recourse to fight for their access to clean air, clean water, and land free from contaminants and pollution.
“By reversing the Trump regulations that put polluter interests over those of the public, the Biden administration is demonstrating a willingness to listen to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis whose lives and livelihoods are on the line. However, this rule is only a partial down payment on a more comprehensive and much-needed overhaul of the 2020 Trump regulations that sought to weaken NEPA and cut communities out of the decision-making process. We look forward to working with CEQ throughout the rulemaking process to ensure that the federal government is taking an active role in addressing the immediate and future impacts of climate change and its impacts on environmental justice communities.
“We are pleased the administration is taking these steps to restore equity and certainty in federal decision-making under NEPA and hope Congress will build on this effort by providing for meaningful funding for NEPA implementation in the reconciliation bill. NEPA must remain a critical tool that current and future generations rely upon to safeguard their communities.”