Trump Administration Sued by Environmental Activist Groups Over Changes to NEPA

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Maxwell Bernstein | August 7, 2020

On Thursday nine environmental activist groups sued the Trump administration over changes being made to the National Environmental Policy Act. 

The lawsuit targets changes that includes environmental review for projects, stating that, “…entire classes of projects that may have devastating cumulative or indirect impacts on people and the environment.” 

President Trump’s overhauls include speeding up permitting to federal infrastructure programs which will silence predominantly minority communities that are impacted by federal projects, as reported by Iowa Environmental Focus. 

“If implemented, the 2020 Rule will cause real, foreseeable harms to people, communities, and the natural environment,” the lawsuit said. “It will allow ill-considered and uninformed project approvals that impair individuals’ health, especially in the most vulnerable and overburdened communities. It will permit projects that divide neighborhoods and impair habitat.”

President Trump Overhauls the National Environmental Policy Act

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Maxwell Bernstein | July 17, 2020

President Trump overhauled the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in an announcement in Atlanta on Wednesday to speed up permitting of federal infrastructure programs, according to the Associated Press.

NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the harm done to air, land, water, and wildlife and allows for public review and input when it comes to environmental effects on communities affected by federal infrastructure projects.

Critics say that limiting NEPA will contribute to climate change and will silence predominantly minority communities impacted by federal projects; over 1-million African American’s living within half-mile of natural gas facilities face higher risks of cancer from emitted toxins.

This move comes after district courts ordered for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be emptied to let the Army Corps of Engineers conduct an environmental review, as reported by Iowa Environmental Focus. While this does not have any effect on the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it will create environmental consequences for future projects to come.