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article imageTrump plans to change environmental laws to get pipelines built

By Karen Graham     Jul 15, 2020 in Politics
President Donald Trump is expected to announce his final plans to expedite permitting for major infrastructure like oil pipelines and road expansions in Atlanta on Wednesday, a move that environmentalists say will bypass public input.
Trump's move to update the 50-year-old National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) is part of his bigger campaign to cut environmental regulations to boost the economy and expedite the building of pipelines. Trump's efforts have been slowed by the courts.
Earlier this month, Trump was handed a couple of stunning defeats. On July 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down because the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to do an adequate NEPA impact study.
“The Corps had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement despite conditions that triggered such a requirement,” the court ruling said. “Although mindful of the disruption such a shutdown will cause, the Court now concludes that the answer is yes.”
One day later, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the construction of the Keystone XL line from Canada pending a deeper environmental review. The court did reinstate a use permit that allows for fast-tracking pipeline construction, giving a win to the Trump administration, however, this did not apply to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
US President-elect Donald Trump has expressed intent on day one to approve the Keystone XL pipeline ...
US President-elect Donald Trump has expressed intent on day one to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which the Obama administration blocked
MANDEL NGAN, AFP/File
Back in January, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed the changes to NEPA, kicking off a public comment period, reports Reuters. Many in the administration called the proposal “the most significant deregulatory proposal” of the Trump administration.
By the time the date for submitting public comments closed on March 20, 2020, total of 172,000 comments had been submitted. It is estimated that 94 percent of comments opposed the CEQ’s proposal to expedite the NEPA process by changing key definitions. Importantly, the revisions would ensure that a project’s effects on climate are given low-priority considerations in NEPA reviews.
Caitlin McCoy, a staff attorney for the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program pointed out that with most of the comments opposing the changes to NEPA, and providing evidence of the harmful results, this could make the rule vulnerable in lawsuits, she said, according to Global News.
“CEQ will need to show that it grappled with these adverse comments and considered all of the important aspects of making these changes, otherwise aspects of the regulations could be ruled arbitrary and capricious,” she said.
More about Trump, pipelines, National Environmental Protection Act, no public input, Climate change
 
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