Trump Seeks Exempting Some Pipelines and Highways From Environmental Review
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a proposed revision of the federal environmental review process, a move that would fast-track the construction of some infrastructure projects, including pipelines, highways and airports.
The change, which would apply to the National Environmental Policy Act enacted under the Nixon administration, would limit the review timeline of “large” projects to two years and “small” projects to one year and eliminate the requirement that agencies weigh the “cumulative impacts” of a project, which has often been interpreted to include analysis of impacts from climate change.
Trump introduced the proposal Thursday flanked by leaders of trade associations for real estate developers, building contractors and manufacturers, as well as White House Cabinet members, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. He said the current rules are a “regulatory nightmare” that have frequently bogged down critical infrastructure projects.
“It takes many, many years to get buildings built,” Trump said. “It’s big government at its absolute worse.”
Council on Environmental Quality chairwoman Mary Neumayr, a Trump appointee, said the review process has become “increasingly complex” and that some environmental reviews have taken more than four years and filled more than 600 pages. The delays, Neumayr said, increase construction costs and make the United States less economically competitive.
Vickie Patton, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, cast doubt on the proposal, saying that “unfortunately, the clear record shows the Trump administration operates with reckless disregard for our nation’s long-standing environmental laws.” The rule change is an attempt to “punch loopholes into long-standing protections” under long-standing environmental law and “would put communities at risk and worsen climate change,” Patton said.
The environmental review is typically required for projects receiving federal permits or funding. A draft of the proposal said the change would exclude private projects that receive minimal public funding or government involvement.
This change can make it harder for advocacy groups to pose a significant challenge to large projects that might be harmful to the environment.
Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration & Production Council, a national trade group representing oil and natural gas companies, said the Trump administration’s “modernization of NEPA removes bureaucratic barriers that were stifling construction of key infrastructure projects needed for U.S. producers to deliver energy in a safe and environmentally protective way.”
It will likely be challenged in court as it has already drawn concern from advocacy groups, including the Western Values Project and the Sierra Club, whose executive director, Michael Brune, said in a statement that the “action is nothing more than an attempt to write Donald Trump’s climate denial into official government policy.”
“Communities across the country are already feeling the effects of climate change, but rather than protect them, Trump is pulling out all the stops to silence their voices and further prop up his corporate polluter friends,” Brune said, adding that the group will “pursue every available avenue to fight back against” the proposal.
©2020 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a series of enforcement actions to address air pollution, unsafe drinking... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a series of enforcement actions to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other problems afflicting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states, following a “Journey to Justice” tour by Administrator Michael Regan last fall. The agency will conduct... Read More
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — As climate change pushes states in the U.S. to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels,... Read More
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — As climate change pushes states in the U.S. to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels, many are coming to the conclusion that solar, wind and other renewable power sources might not be enough to keep the lights on. Nuclear power is... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Their state budgets flush with cash, Democratic and Republican governors alike want to spend some of... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Their state budgets flush with cash, Democratic and Republican governors alike want to spend some of the windfall on projects aimed at slowing climate change and guarding against its consequences, from floods and wildfires to dirty air. Democratic governors such as California's... Read More
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion Saturday near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending... Read More
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion Saturday near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. A tsunami advisory was in effect for Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Pacific... Read More
WASHINGTON — California fire officials this week accelerated calls for drastic action to confront global warming when they blamed overhead... Read More
WASHINGTON — California fire officials this week accelerated calls for drastic action to confront global warming when they blamed overhead power lines for the second biggest wildfire in the state’s history. The Dixie Fire burned nearly 1 million acres last year, sparked by an overhead power... Read More
WASHINGTON — The blue economy is a critical subset of the ocean economy, according to Jason Scorse, director of the... Read More
WASHINGTON — The blue economy is a critical subset of the ocean economy, according to Jason Scorse, director of the Center for the Blue Economy. And while some people may use the terms blue economy and ocean economy synonymously, he and a group of other leaders... Read More