The Trump administration continued its malicious attacks on our right to have a meaningful voice in our government decision-making process. Last week, the Trump administration rolled back the rules that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
NEPA is a bedrock environmental law that requires our federal government agencies to “look before they leap” when they consider major federal actions. These requirements ensure full consideration is given to the potential impacts of federal decisions on the environment and health of our communities. Often times, NEPA is the only opportunity for communities to voice their opinion on federal projects that will impact their ocean, water, land and air.
The reviews and participation required under NEPA help to highlight how many federal actions have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, low-income communities, Tribes and others. These groups have historically borne the brunt of impacts from projects that pollute water quality and air quality, desecrate sacred places and jeopardize resilience in the face of climate change. At a time when COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact these communities, we cannot afford to take away these protections. Now more than ever, we need the NEPA process to keep us healthy and give us all a say in the future of our communities.
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Unfortunately, the Trump administration has decided to put the needs of polluting industries before the needs of our communities and our environment. The rollbacks to the rules that implement NEPA will undoubtedly put our ocean and coastal communities at risk. These rollbacks include …
- Reduced opportunity for public input on major federal decisions, including those affecting our ocean and coasts
- Decreased number of potentially damaging projects that will undergo environmental review
- Allowing federal decision-making to ignore climate change when considering major projects, such as pipelines and highways
The rules that implement NEPA are crucial to responsibly and transparently developing our ocean resources and allowing our communities to have a say in what happens in their own backyard. The Trump administration’s decision to make our already vulnerable communities more vulnerable to the impacts of pollution is reckless and dangerous.