Undermining a Fundamental Law - Waterkeeper

Undermining a Fundamental Law

By: Larissa Liebmann

Since 1970 the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has been a vital tool for the public to ensure that decisions made by federal agencies that impact the environment are made in a transparent, well-informed manner. NEPA requires agencies to take a “hard look” at the potential impacts of their decisions, consider available alternatives, and provide the public with a meaningful opportunity to become informed about a proposal and to weigh in during the decision-making process.

Please join us in opposing the Administration’s effort to gut environmental review. File your comment today! 

By requiring the federal government to study the impacts of its decisions and share the information with the public, the NEPA process informs communities and allows them to voice their concerns. Studying impacts and alternatives to a proposed project can also help uncover inefficient, unsustainable, or unfair plans. In this way, NEPA can improve projects, prevent environmental injustices, and save taxpayer money. 

The Administration is proposing changes to the regulations that determine how federal agencies implement the NEPA process. These changes would drastically weaken the NEPA process in order to benefit companies that want to plow forward with polluting projects. The revisions include limiting the scope of environmental impacts that agencies must consider, excluding more projects from environmental review, allowing companies to conduct reviews of their own projects, and shifting the burden onto the public to provide expert-level comments. 

If these changes are finalized they would undermine the fundamental purposes of NEPA, allowing many dangerous projects to move forward with no or limited environmental review. Incredibly, the federal government would not even need to consider the impact that a project might have on greenhouse gas emissions—even if the project involves construction of more fossil fuel infrastructure. Companies would be given more power to corrupt the outcome of environmental reviews, while concerns expressed by members of the public will be more easily dismissed. These changes will especially hurt our most vulnerable communities that are already suffering from environmental injustices. 

Please join us and stand up for this vitally important environmental law, and file your comments opposing the NEPA regulatory revisions today! 

Feature image by Reinhard Tiburzy/Shutterstock.com.