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White House Weakens National Environmental Policy Act

On Wednesday, the Trump administration finalized its proposal to significantly alter the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The new rules change the regulations that guide the implementation of the law in a number of ways, including narrowing the types of projects that require an assessment, ruling out consideration of the “cumulative impacts” a project would have – such as climate change, set time limits on environmental impact studies, and provide less time for public input.

What is the National Environmental Policy Act?

Considered the nation’s oldest environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) creates an important framework that policymakers and community leaders can use to balance the effects of major federally permitted development projects on the natural and cultural environment. 

NEPA provides environmental oversight by ensuring that these projects consider impacts on air, water, critical habitat and wildlife.

What is NEPA? E&E News Explains

Before construction can begin on a proposed major development project that is likely to affect the environment and nearby communities, NEPA requires federal agencies to:

  1. Assess the environmental impact of a project, an estimated 1% of projects require an agency to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for review
  2. Allow for public engagement throughout the review of the proposed action