Trump Administration announces plan to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act

January 9, 2020
Contact: Sinjin Eberle, 720-373-0864

The Trump Administration today announced plans to significantly weaken implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. Enacted in 1970, NEPA requires that federal agencies assess the environmental impacts of any federal or federally-funded project, such as the construction of a major pipeline or highway, and that the agency consider reasonable alternatives to the project as proposed that would reduce those impacts. The law’s requirements that the public be informed of the assessment and allowed to comment provide powerful opportunities for individuals and communities to voice concerns and provide input into agency decision-making. The Trump Administration’s proposed changes would undermine virtually every aspect of the Act.

Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers made the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act:

“The National Environmental Policy Act tells us to “Look before you leap.” The Trump administration wants us to bury our heads in the sand and ignore potential harm to the water we drink and the air we breathe. 

NEPA is a cornerstone environmental law, based on the common-sense notion that, before we build a highway through a neighborhood or permit a new power plant that pollutes our air and water, we should know the impacts that these federal projects and actions will have on the nation’s land, air, and water, and consider less harmful alternatives. The Trump administration’s proposals to hamstring the law – curtailing public participation, redefining “major federal action” to eliminate NEPA review of a huge swath of federally funded and permitted activities, ending the requirement to consider the cumulative impacts of multiple projects, allowing federal agencies to completely ignore climate change – defy common sense. 

For fifty years, NEPA has prevented immeasurable damage to America’s environment and the health of our citizens. We will fight this effort to undermine those protections.”