Trump to announce sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act

Trump to announce sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act

President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Donald Trump is expected to announce on Thursday major changes to the nation’s landmark environmental law that would make it easier for federal agencies to approve construction projects without considering the climate change impact.

Many of the administration’s proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act have been supported by business groups that contend the law has delayed or blocked projects like laying out pipelines and building dams and mines, among other things.

Environmentalists said that the rules would endanger wildlife and lead to more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and contend that the regulations should be strengthened not weakened as the world copes with global warming.

The act’s regulations have not been updated in more than 40 years. The White House proposal would no longer require any form of federal environmental review of construction projects that lack substantial government funding.

Trump has argued that the law can “increase costs, derail important projects, and threaten jobs for American workers and labor union members.”

A demonstrator holds a placard depicting a caricature of US President Donald Trump during a mass climate march to demand urgent action on the climate crisis from world leaders attending the COP25 summit, in Madrid, on December 6, 2019.

Oscar Del Pozo | AFP | Getty Images

The move is the latest effort by the Trump administration to roll back a slew of environmental regulations in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural habitats from drilling and development.

Bruce Huber, an environmental law professor at Notre Dame Law School, said the proposed changes will require an act from Congress and might not make it through court.

“The law requires federal agencies to report the environmental impacts of their actions that significantly affect ‘the quality of the human environment,'” he said. “If the regulations announced today drive agencies to diminish the extent or quality of their reporting, federal courts may very well conclude that their reports do not comply with the law.”

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