The action by the Trump administration today to introduce major changes to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), a landmark environmental law that has been in place for 50 years, misses the mark on many levels, according to the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres.
Under NEPA, major federal infrastructure projects such as bridges, highways, pipelines or power plants are required to complete a review of the potential environmental impacts and consequences before construction can commence. The proposed new rule would limit the types of projects requiring environmental review and repeal requirements to consider the climate impacts of new infrastructure investments.
“Ceres strongly opposes the administration’s proposed changes to the National Environmental Protection Act, which will be costly, harmful and have potentially disastrous consequences for our country’s infrastructure,” said Ryan Martel, senior director of federal policy at Ceres. “As real-time extreme weather events bring the threats of climate change to life, ignoring the impacts that the changing climate will have on infrastructure is completely out of step with reality.”
“Companies understand the importance of conducting an environmental impact assessment, as well as catastrophic environmental and financial consequences of compromised infrastructure on their bottom lines. Bypassing the environmental review process for new projects will also cost additional taxpayer money when projects are not built to be resilient in a changing climate.”
The administration’s proposed changes to NEPA, the first major changes to the law in more than 30 years, have been long sought by the oil and gas industry based on the claim that the environmental review process is lengthy and burdensome. These changes are expected to face legal challenges in the coming months, potentially resulting in even longer delays on federal projects than with a thorough environmental impact assessment.