WASHINGTON -- Despite the critically important role the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has played in protecting the environment, the Trump Administration today rolled back the key regulatory policy. As a result, certain construction projects that are not substantially funded by the government will no longer require federal environmental reviews. This will endanger wildlife and cause an increase in carbon dioxide emissions.
This damaging rollback comes as NEPA celebrates its 50th anniversary as a bedrock law.
Katie Murtha, vice president of federal government relations at Environment America, issued the following response:
“The administration has failed today. It has failed to keep a promise made by Congress and President Richard Nixon 50 years ago. Back then, President Nixon emphasized that it was time for America to pay its past debts in order to reclaim the purity of our air, water and wildlife. That was the 1970s, and we’re still a work in progress. But today it is literally now or never -- and this decision by President Trump tips the scales in the wrong direction.
“NEPA has quietly protected some of our most precious, environmentally sensitive places. It has helped federal agencies minimize the environmental impact of the projects they oversee; it has allowed for public input into all planning efforts; and it established the Council on Environmental Quality -- the first time there was a body within the Office of the President focused solely on the environment.
“Without these safeguards, our environment is at greater risk because our government will no longer have to look before it leaps. These regulations have served as a key tool for assuring the federal government acts as a responsible trustee for future generations.