White House Moves to Reverse Trump Assault on the National Environmental Policy Act

Image: National Park Service

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor

On Wednesday, the White House took first steps to reverse a Trump-era assault on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The new rules will restore the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) obligation to take climate change and carbon emissions into account for major projects. Officials say the Biden meassure will increase the efficacy of new infrastructure and reduce the costs of lawsuits.


Why This Matters: The Trump Administration’s rollbacks of NEPA were designed to accelerate  highways, pipelines, and other major federal projects regardless of climate impacts. The move made it so the CEQ no longer needed to consider the potential climate impacts of federal projects. Coupled with the Trump Administration’s resistance to approving federal offshore wind projects and other green initiatives, it was a green light to build dirty and dirtier. The Trump Administration’s rules and rollbacks set the nation’s clean energy infrastructure and environmental regulations back significantly. Now, the United States is playing catchup, with very little time left on the clock.


Phasing In

The proposed changes announced today will be “Phase 1” of the reversal and restore climate impact considerations. The administration will work on “Phase 2” in the coming months. CEQ officials told The Hill that these phases will accelerate the effects of the reversal.


CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory said that the upcoming restorations and additions will strengthen American infrastructure. “The basic community safeguards we are proposing to restore would help ensure that American infrastructure gets built right the first time and delivers real benefits — not harms — to people who live nearby,” she explained. “Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help reduce conflict and litigation and help clear up some of the uncertainty that the previous administration’s rule caused.”


The administration says the “Phase 2” rules will also require the CEQ to consider the needs of  local communities when evaluating new projects instead of what’s best for developers.The White House is, however, maintaining one facet introduced by the Trump administration that created a provision for stronger tribal consultations.

Up Next

US Green Diplomat Previews Glasgow

US Green Diplomat Previews Glasgow

By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]

Continue Reading 421 words
One Cool Thing: COP26 Coverage Kickoff

One Cool Thing: COP26 Coverage Kickoff

Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]

Continue Reading 194 words
DOD Says Climate Change Increases National Security Risks

DOD Says Climate Change Increases National Security Risks

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]

Continue Reading 440 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.