EDF joined hundreds of Americans at a public hearing in Washington, DC today on proposed changes that would significantly weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), America’s bedrock environmental law, including by limiting what agencies can study and how much Americans learn about the climate impact of the federal government’s policies and major actions.
“Today, we face a growing climate crisis where raging wildfires, devastating floods and record-breaking temperatures are becoming the new normal,” yet the Trump Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is considering a proposal “potentially allowing major federal projects and actions to move forward without adequate climate change consideration or disclosure,” said EDF Legal Fellow Dena Adler in her testimony at the hearing today.
CEQ has proposed to drastically weaken requirements under NEPA for agencies to study the impacts of government actions, including not having to review the “cumulative” or “indirect” effects, a change that will hamper agencies from reviewing the full climate change effects of federal actions and ultimately facilitate more emissions and intensify climate change.
This proposal also discourages agencies from looking at impacts that are “remote in time, geographically remote, or the product of a lengthy causal chain.” These restrictions would tie the hands of agencies in evaluating projects, therefore reducing transparency on both the federal government’s contribution to climate change as well as the risk to federally funded projects from increasing impacts such as sea level rise.
These ill-advised rollbacks come as an increasing number of Americans are alarmed and concerned about climate change, and as more and more businesses and local and state governments are stepping up to cut their climate pollution.
Adler also requested that CEQ provide additional opportunity for the public to weigh in on this misguided proposal by extending the comment deadline and providing additional opportunities for testimony.
EDF legal intern Dan Ress also testified at a Denver hearing on the proposal last month.
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