New Proposal Would Strengthen NEPA, Accelerate Clean Energy, Protect Communities
(Washington, D.C. – July 28, 2023) A new Biden administration proposal to restore and strengthen our core environmental law will help establish new clean energy around the country, protect communities, and address the climate crisis.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality unveiled the proposed Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule this morning. The proposal would implement several measures that were passed by a bipartisan vote in Congress as part of the debt limit bill. It includes steps that would accelerate the process for approving clean energy projects and make it easier for communities to have a voice in those approvals. The proposal also reverses damaging regulatory changes made by the previous administration intended to preclude consideration of climate impacts and harms to environmental justice communities.
“This proposal would modernize and streamline our process for developing new, desperately needed renewable energy projects and getting them connected to the national grid,” said Elizabeth Gore, EDF Senior Vice President for Political Affairs. “Clarifying our permitting processes under NEPA will allow us to reduce the backlog of deserving energy projects waiting to be built, which will move us toward the clean energy economy that we need to in order to protect all Americans from the climate crisis.”
Today’s proposal involves the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the foundational law underlying our nation’s environmental policies. NEPA guides federal agencies when they consider the impact of their actions on the climate, critical national infrastructure like the national power grid, and communities – especially those that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and climate change.
The previous administration implemented regulations that undermined NEPA and were disastrous for our ability to review the health, economic, and environmental impacts of projects – particularly impacts on climate and communities. Those changes made it easier to pollute and harder for the public to learn about and comment on projects that would create more pollution in their neighborhoods.
The Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule that was proposed today is a critical step toward undoing that damage and would restore certainty, efficiency, transparency, and meaningful public engagement in decisions made under NEPA. It would help ensure that agencies consider how their actions may contribute to or mitigate climate change, and how climate change may threaten a proposed agency action or alter its environmental outcomes.
“Restoring and strengthening NEPA is essential for improving community engagement, advancing environmental justice, and integrating climate change impacts into federal decision-making” said Rosalie Winn, EDF Director of Methane and Clean Air Policy. “This proposal would make sure that federal agencies are considering the environmental justice and climate impacts of projects, clearly disclosing potential impacts of those projects to the public, and actively engaging with the communities that will be especially impacted by them.”
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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund