Two hundred conservation, environmental justice, and Indigenous groups have sent a letter to all U.S. Senators urging them to oppose S.J. Res 55. The resolution introduced by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) would undermine core provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that were recently restored by the Biden administration. The most recent regulations reversed some of the harmful rollbacks of the Trump administration and clarifies the ongoing responsibility of agencies to consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of federal projects.
“This resolution is nothing more than a giveaway to the same big business and fossil fuel interests that consistently put their profit margins over people,” said Earthjustice Senior Legislative Counsel Stephen Schima. “The Biden administration took important steps towards restoring certainty and efficiency in the federal decision-making process for agencies, project proponents, and impacted stakeholders. By restoring core definitions, such as cumulative effects, the Phase I rulemaking clarified the existing responsibilities of how agencies consider the health, economic, and environmental impacts of their decisions. We urge Senators to oppose this reckless resolution that would undermine review and public input in the federal decision-making process. The voices, health, and well-being of impacted communities are not ‘red tape’ meant to be discarded under the banner of development.”
“President Biden’s restoration of CEQ’s NEPA regulations were a day one priority because they are critically important to addressing the climate crisis and environmental justice,” the groups wrote. “Without a robust NEPA it will be virtually impossible to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or achieve President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a government-wide pledge to commit 40% of federal investments in clean energy and climate infrastructure to disadvantaged communities. For low-income and minority communities, which are often disproportionately impacted by health problems associated with poorly planned federal projects, NEPA isn’t just an environmental protection statute. It’s a critical tool for civic engagement and social justice we cannot afford to lose.”
Read the full letter.