Biden admin moves to restore climate change safeguards to environment law

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The Biden administration on Wednesday announced plans to restore climate change protections in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which had been dismantled under former President Trump.

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why it matters: The White House Council on Environmental Quality plans to roll back the requirement for federal agencies to “evaluate all relevant environmental impacts of the decisions they are making” for projects such as highways, mines, gas pipelines and water infrastructure Is. a CEQ statement.

  • This will include “assessing a full range of climate change impacts,” the CEQ notes.
  • A proposal to restore three key provisions in the Basic Environment Act is in front of Congress in the form of an infrastructure package signed by President Biden.

how it works: After these provisions are reinstated, the second phase of the overhaul will begin. According to the CEQ this will include “comprehensive” changes that will focus on community feedback and “fair public participation in the environmental review process”.

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big picture: Trump said that while he announced changes to create jobs and make it easier for his administration to build infrastructure, his action would remove “mountains and mountains of red tape” that he claimed were projects. was delayed, per bloomberg.

  • CEQ argues that the changes in 2020 “caused implementation challenges for agencies, and created confusion among stakeholders and the general public.”
  • “Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help reduce conflict and litigation and help address some of the uncertainties,” CEQ President Brenda Mallory said in a statement.

of note: Some Republicans and business leaders who backed Trump’s rollback raised concerns that the additional reviews “will hinder the development of badly needed projects including public transit and clean energy infrastructure” that Biden and other Democrats are seeking. , new York Times notes.

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What are they saying: Chad Whitman, vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, said: in a statement: “By rolling back some of the most important updates to our old permitting process, the Biden Administration’s newly proposed NEPA rule will only serve to slow future infrastructure build-up.”

go in: Negotiating bold climate commitments

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