January 06, 2020
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major new U.S. projects like highways and pipelines will no longer require federal reviews of their environmental climate impact under new rules that the Trump administration will propose on Wednesday, sources familiar with the plan said.
The proposed overhaul would update how federal agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law aimed at ensuring the government protects the environment when reviewing or making decisions about projects that include building roads and bridges, cutting forests, expanding broadband to approving interstate pipelines like the Keystone XL.
The regulatory change would be the first in 40 years by the White House Council on Environmental Quality which coordinates U.S. environmental efforts by federal agencies and other White House offices.
The council is expected to announce that federal agencies will not be required to consider “cumulative” climate change impacts when considering federal projects, said two people familiar with the CEQ rulemaking.
The council oversees how nearly 80 government agencies meet their NEPA obligations.
“President (Donald) Trump promised a more efficient process to provide Americans timely decisions on permits for vital infrastructure projects that provide good jobs, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods across our great country,” CEQ spokesman Daniel Schneider said by email.
The CEQ is also expected to limit the scope of projects that would trigger stringent environmental reviews called environmental impact studies, expand the number of project categories that can be excluded from NEPA reviews and allow companies or project developers to conduct their own environmental assessments, the sources said.