The Trump administration on Thursday proposed scaling back an environmental law to reduce the time it takes to assess the environmental impact of major federal projects. The proposed rules would alter the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to both assess public opinion in regards to major projects and assess the environmental impact of these projects.
In his press conference describing the proposed changes to the NEPA, President Donald Trump indicated, “We will not stop until our nation’s gleaming new infrastructure has made America the envy of the world again. It used to be the envy of the world and now we’re like a third-world country. It’s really sad.”
The proposed changes to the NEPA could have long-lasting effects on what constitutes a major federal action. This new interpretation could potentially make it easier to construct pipelines, which have been strongly opposed by environmental activists in the past. In addition, this new proposal would not only set deadlines and page limits for environmental reviews but also ensure that such reviews are complete within 2 years. As the current law stands, it takes three times as long to determine the environmental impact major potential projects have and these statements span hundreds of pages. Further, the new proposed rules would not analyze the entirety of the environmental impact a project may possess. The rules state, “effects should not be considered significant if they are remote in time. Geographically remote, or the product of a lengthy causal chain.”
If these proposed changes to the NEPA become law, many projects that are environmentally detrimental would not be subject to federal review.