The White House says the new rule will reinstate community safeguards on reviews of pipelines and other major US projects.
The administration of US President Joe Biden is reinstating federal regulations that require a rigorous environmental review of large infrastructure projects such as highways, pipelines, and oil wells, including potential impacts on climate change and communities. nearby.
The Trump administration has scaled back long-standing reviews in a bid to speed up projects and create jobs.
A U.S. rule finalized Tuesday will restore key provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, a critical environmental law designed to ensure community protection during reviews of a wide range of federal proposals, including authorized highway, bridge and energy projects in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill Biden signed in November, the White House said.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) said the new rule, which will take effect at the end of May, should resolve challenges created by Trump-era politics and restore public confidence. during environmental reviews.
“Restoring these basic community safeguards will provide regulatory certainty, reduce conflict and help ensure projects are built right the first time,” said CEQ President Brenda Mallory. “Fixing these holes in the environmental review process will help projects build faster, be more resilient and provide greater benefits to people who live nearby.”
Former President Donald Trump reviewed environmental reviews in 2020 in a bid to speed up projects, he said, it would boost the economy and create jobs.
The rule change imposed that year restricted timelines for environmental reviews and public comment and allowed federal officials to ignore a project’s role in cumulative effects such as climate change.
Black, Latino, and Native American environmental groups and activists had protested the Trump-era rule change, saying that make pollution worse in areas already reeling from oil refineries, chemical plants and other dangerous sites.
The Biden administration has made addressing these environmental justice issues a key priority.
The move comes as the Supreme Court reinstated a separate Trump-era rule restricting the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects that can pollute rivers, streams and other waterways.
In a decision that split the court 5-4 earlier this month, the justices agreed to halt a lower court judge’s order overturning Trump’s rule. The decision does not interfere with the Biden administration’s plan to rewrite Environmental Protection Agency regulation.
Contrary to frequent claims by Trump and others in his administration, Mallory said a more rigorous environmental review will actually speed the completion of crucial projects, since they are more likely to withstand a legal challenge from environmental groups or states.
A lots of Environmental decisions of the Trump era they were overturned or delayed by the courts after the findings were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny.
Environmental groups praised the rule change, which they said restores fundamental environmental protections under NEPA, a 1970 law that requires the government to accept public comment and consider environmental, economic and health impacts before approving any important project.
“NEPA plays a critical role in keeping our communities and environment healthy and safe, and Donald Trump’s attempts to weaken NEPA were clearly nothing more than a gift to corporate polluters,” said Leslie Fields, national policy director, advocacy and Sierra Club promotion. legal matters.
The White House action “restores essential NEPA safeguards and ensures that they will continue to protect people and communities today and for generations to come,” he said.
Business groups and Republican lawmakers criticized the rule change, saying it would delay major infrastructure development.
“Important projects that address critical issues like improving access to public transportation, adding more clean energy to the grid, and expanding broadband access are languishing due to ongoing delays, and that needs to change,” said Chad Whiteman, vice president of environmental affairs and regulations of the US Chamber of Commerce.