Help Fully Restore the National Environmental Policy Act - Waterkeeper

Help Fully Restore the National Environmental Policy Act

By: Thomas Hynes

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), passed in 1970, requires federal agencies to assess any significant environmental impacts a federal action, such as granting a permit or funding an activity, may have before it can begin. This critical law acts as a safety net, a vital backstop to protect communities from uninformed decisions and unsafe environmental conditions. Unfortunately, federal NEPA regulations that had been in place for decades were weakened by the previous administration, leaving countless communities at increased risk to the dangers of pollution.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality, which provides guidance and interpretations of NEPA’s requirements to all federal agencies, recently issued a proposed rule that would restore certainty, efficiency, transparency, and meaningful public engagement in federal decision making under NEPA. If the proposed rule is finalized, it will largely reverse the previous administration’s rollbacks while also helping to address statutory changes to NEPA included in legislation passed by Congress this summer.

Will you take a moment to urge the Biden administration to finalize the strongest possible rule as soon as possible?

NEPA is a bedrock environmental law requiring the federal government to work with communities so that any health and environmental concerns are taken into account when decision makers consider whether to approve a proposed project and how its environmental impacts can be avoided or mitigated. The NEPA process is intended to ensure that the federal agencies and the public are fully informed of the environmental, economic, and health impacts prior to any federal approvals. NEPA is the primary way by which federal agencies consider not only the impacts of their decisions on climate, water quality, human health, critical infrastructure, and a host of other potential impacts. NEPA allows the public’s voice to be heard.

As the federal government continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure projects, it is more important than ever to properly weigh the true environmental costs of dams, highways, pipelines, animal factory farms, mines, and other projects that require federal authorization or funding. We cannot afford to simply rubber stamp these massive projects. Every day this law is not properly effectuated is a day polluters can take advantage of communities and threaten our climate and the quality of our water resources.

In order to meet our climate goals and rapidly transition off of fossil fuels, we must efficiently bring a huge amount of new clean energy sources and transmission projects online. The proposed updates to the NEPA process will help ensure that we can do that while minimizing harm to vulnerable communities and wildlife.

That is why we are urging the Biden Administration to finalize the strongest possible rule as soon as possible and to work with partners to ensure that NEPA continues to serve as a bridge, not a barrier, to a clean economy and economic future.

Will you join us in support of this crucial environmental protection?

Share your voice today!