Back when Trump was President, and not just the nation’s leading fossil-fueled fascist, his administration took a hatchet to the National Environmental Policy Act – NEPA. Trump’s rules gutted NEPA, especially communities’ ability to learn about and challenge potential projects based on their cumulative impact on the climate and environment; For example, Trump’s NEPA rules make it harder for communities to learn about new fossil fuel pipelines, and when the do, it reduced their ability to legally object based on how the pipeline would affect the climate or community health.
Fortunately, President Biden’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has proposed new NEPA rules that roll back the Trump-era regulations, and expand community input. But comments on the draft rule are due September 29 so we need to act fast to get our comments in and counter all the pushback from climate deniers and fossil fuel companies that we’ve told you are clamoring to “build more faster” regardless of the impact on our climate and common home. And we’ve already seen agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) wavering in the face of how to use NEPA – to protect communities, or protect polluters.
Our friends at Climate Hawks Vote have set up a quick and easy comment page. Click here to use it to tell the Biden Administration “We need a strong National Environmental Policy Act, NOW!”
The Biden Administration’s draft NEPA regulations repair dangerous Trump-Era limitations on public comments, and center community outreach in the NEPA process. They would also, for the first time ever, expressly require projects to be vetted based on their impacts on climate change and environmental justice.
The draft NEPA rules make several important changes:
- Require federal agencies like the EPA, US Army Corps, and FERC to reach out to affected communities early, and ensure those agencies are accountable for community engagement;
- Require agencies to account for environmental justice in decision-making process, and avoid or minimize disproportionate impacts on communities hit first and worst by pollution and climate change; and
- Eliminate the Trump-era limitations on public comments that made challenging projects in court nearly impossible for most community and conservation groups.
NEPA is a bedrock environmental law that requires federal agencies to analyze and disclose a project’s impact on the environment, economy, community, and public health — including the climate. It was gutted under President Trump, and now the Biden Administration is trying to put it back together. But climate deniers and fossil fuel fascists have been arguing for years that we need less restrictions on building things (especially fossil fuel-ed things), and there’s a chance Biden’s new rules will not be adopted unless we speak out.