Trump Administration Had Secret Industry Backchannel for Comments on NEPA Rollback

Trump Announcing Proposed NEPA Roll Back in January    Photo: Nicholas Kamm, AFP

Environmental groups and Democratic Senators accused the White House Council on Environmental Quality of using a separate, non-public email address for its select friends in industry and business to submit views on the administration’s proposal to weaken the regulations implementing a bedrock environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware wrote the White House saying, “It has come to my attention that, in addition to receiving public comments on this rule through www.regulations.gov, the White House accommodated industry requests for the use of an email address, NEPA-Update@ceq.eop.gov, to receive comments on the proposed regulations. Comments accepted through this email address do not appear to have been publicly available to others during the comment period, and it is my understanding that they remain unavailable today. This practice appears to violate Section 206(d) of the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires agencies to make dockets and comments submitted on proposed rules available online.”

Why This Matters:  According to The Hill, Senator Carper said he has “heard from ‘multiple sources’ that the White House gave the email address to people, organizations and industry groups to use for their comments.” The whole point of NEPA is for the public to know the environmental impacts of government actions and have a chance to comment on them — it is a sunshine law at its core. Not to mention that what they are doing is patently illegal. It’s ironic, but not surprising, that the Administration is working in secret to roll back the protections this law provides — Trump’s industry cronies are pulling the strings on this Administration’s assault on the environment — Trump is merely their puppet.  Gee, how swampy can they get????

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