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article imageNew rule removes climate impact assessment from energy projects

By Karen Graham     Jan 9, 2020 in Politics
Washington - The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan to speed permitting for major infrastructure projects like oil pipelines, including by dropping consideration of their potential impact on climate change.
Trump planned to announce the proposed change to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) at the White House at 11 a.m. If enacted, this proposal would be the first time in over forty years that the bedrock environmental regulation has been overhauled.
By changing the landmark environmental law, the Trump White House hopes to make its limited approach to measuring a project's climate impacts harder to challenge in court, and to make it harder for future presidents to pick up where former President Barack Obama left off.
Basically, the new proposal states that federal agencies would not be required to factor in climate impact on a project. This will make it easier for fossil fuel projects to sail through the permitting process, as well as avoid legal challenges.
And of course, Trump's strong support from the energy industry has to be taken into account. Companies building pipelines don't like the red tape that environmental impact assessments add to a project's costs, even if the assessments prove to be necessary.
“The proposed rule seeks to reduce unnecessary paperwork and delays, and to promote better decision-making consistent with NEPA’s statutory requirements,” said a CEQ fact sheet about the proposed change seen by Reuters.
Midwest flooding
Midwest flooding
John Gardner
The administration's pencil-pushers have thought the proposed rule out thoroughly. Case in point - The plan would broaden the categories of projects excluded from NEPA altogether. If a project got a “categorical exclusion” from one agency in the past, for example, it would automatically be excluded from review by other agencies, according to the plan.
The American public will bear the brunt of this administration's rollback of our most basic and durable climate regulation. We will see hastily constructed infrastructure projects like roads and bridges built in unsafe areas, or pipelines crossing vital watersheds. It's just not worth the shortcuts in today's warming world.
“Today’s destructive actions by Trump, if not blocked by the courts or immediately reversed by the next president, will have reverberations for decades to come,” said Rebecca Concepcion Apostol, U.S. program director at Oil Change International, an environmental group.
The Trump administration also released the eighth annual summary of U.S. vulnerability to threats such as disasters and terrorism. Called the National Preparedness Report, it describes the greatest threats and hazards to the country, but climate change, drought or sea-level rise have been purposely left out.
More about Trump, Council on Environmental Quality, environmental assessment, National Environmental Policy Act, climate denial
 
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