Biden completes NEPA regulation, reversing Trump – Advice Eating

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The White House announced on Tuesday that it has restored key safeguards to a landmark environmental law governing the construction of pipelines, highways and other projects President Donald Trump swept away as part of efforts to cut red tape.

The new rule will require federal agencies to study the climate impacts of large infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1970 law that required the government to assess the environmental impacts of federal actions, such as B. Permitting the construction of oil and gas pipelines.

In 2020, Trump introduced major changes to how the law was implemented, saying the government would exempt many projects from scrutiny and speed up the approval process. His administration also said federal agencies would not consider “indirect” climate impacts. Trump and business allies said the move would reinvigorate infrastructure projects across the country.

Under the rule, passed by the Biden White House this week, regulators must now consider how government actions can increase greenhouse gas emissions and fragment wildlife habitat, and whether they will place new burdens on communities, particularly poor and minority neighborhoods already exposed to disproportionate levels of pollution.

The move underscores how President Biden is looking for ways to advance his climate agenda, despite growing concerns about rising costs in the economy. Triggered by the court order and Under pressure to increase energy supplies, his government announced on Friday that it would resume awarding oil and gas leases, disappointing climate activists. The government is also working to implement a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed last fall.

Biden’s Democratic allies in Congress praised the White House for reversing another Trump-era environmental rollback.

“I am glad that this administration is realizing how eerily wrong these measures were and is moving forward to restore the protective measures that have helped protect our environment while promoting sustainable development for decades,” said Rep. Raúl M .Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.

But several business groups and Republicans argue Tuesday’s move will increase costs and slow construction.

“It should never take longer to get federal approval for an infrastructure project than it takes to build the project, but that may very well be the result of administrative changes,” said Marty Durbin, senior vice president of policy at the US Chamber of Commerce Commerce, adding that when there are supply chain disruptions, “the last thing our country needs is unnecessarily large and duplicated red tape.”

However, White House officials insisted that concerns about delays were misplaced. “Closing these gaps in the environmental assessment process will help projects build faster, be more resilient and provide greater benefits — to the people who live nearby,” said Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in an explanation.

The rule will come into effect next month.

Biden’s focus on environmental justice led to a year of progress — and burnout

The Trump-era changes made it harder for environmental and community activists to challenge federal infrastructure projects, limited public scrutiny of road, bridge and power plant construction — and freed agencies from having to consider all the ways projects might affect the country could affect climate change.

Trump said he’s cutting “mountains and mountains of bureaucratic red tape,” saving millions of dollars and boosting the economy.

Now the Biden administration is asking authorities to consider the “direct,” “indirect,” and “cumulative” effects of their actions. The new rule also gives authorities more leeway to consider less polluting alternatives and to develop their own more rigorous environmental assessment procedures.

The White House proposed the changes in October and has promised a second phase of the NEPA rules in the “coming months” to further amend the Trump administration’s changes.

Kym Hunter, senior counsel for the Southern Environmental Law Center, called the rule a “positive move,” but said the White House has yet to restore environmental testing for certain federal loans to hog farms and other agricultural businesses that could result in a runoff into waterways got to. alongside other government measures.

“This is a step in the right direction, but we’re looking at a full restoration,” Hunter said.

When Biden took office, many of his environmentalists urged the president to reinvigorate the law. The law is considered one of the most consequential environmental laws in the country, and has been widely emulated by other countries.

His teeth lie in his requirement that federal agencies conduct environmental assessments and consult the public before breaking ground. Black and Latino communities across the United States, which have suffered disproportionately from poor air quality and industrial pollution, have used the law to secure significant changes to projects that would have further harmed their neighborhoods.

Tracking Biden’s environmental actions

Other environmentalists have used the law in court to block logging, mining and oil drilling. Among the projects hampered with NEPA was the canceled Keystone XL pipeline, which sparked waves of protests and lawsuits from those concerned about climate change and water pollution from leaks. The company behind the project canceled it after Biden refused a crucial permit.

Revising the law has long been a priority for Republican lawmakers and industry groups representing oil and gas companies, logging interests and construction companies. For them, NEPA embodies delays, cost overruns and litigation. They have accused environmentalists of weaponizing the law to thwart projects they oppose.

For environmentalists, the final rule is a bright spot after a dark winter for Biden’s climate agenda.

Some $555 billion in proposed climate action has been blocked in Congress since last winter when a lack of support from Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) thwarted the Democrats’ spending bill. With Congress doing little to address climate change, the administration has focused on using the president’s executive power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

But an upcoming Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia vs. EPAa case decided this year could thwart the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to transition the United States to cleaner energy sources.

And since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent oil prices skyrocketing, Biden faces an additional challenge: an emboldened fossil-fuel industry demanding expanded drilling on federal land. Pressure to lower gas prices has prompted the president, who has campaigned to tackle climate change, to encourage greater domestic oil and gas production.

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