March 04, 2019
President Trump seems willing to inflict pain to get his border wall.
What is equally clear but far less visible is his attempt to tear down a very functional and important wall built to protect the health of local communities from environmental threats — the National Environmental Policy Act.
In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security waived portions of the act to build sections of barrier along the southern border, and now, the administration is preparing to roll out a new set of regulations that would undo core components of the law.
“NEPA,” as the act is called, requires review of federal projects before they proceed, among other things to assess environmental, human health and socioeconomic impacts on communities. Properly implemented, it gives every person a voice in decisions affecting the wellbeing of their local community, from providing comments on project design to pointing out how a project could harm clean air and water. It’s far more than an obscure environmental statute: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe made use of the law to fight back against the Dakota Access Pipeline project in 2017.
And today, advocates are charging that the Trump administration is violating core NEPA protections in its quest to build its border wall.
Simply put, NEPA is one of the most effective tools in the fight against environmental racism. It is essential to ensuring that communities of color, who so often bear a disproportionate pollution burden, get a say in the decision-making processes that are most likely to affect their health, resiliency, and vitality. And without robust NEPA requirements, policymakers are left to make decisions that will have real impacts without a full understanding of the consequences.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a critical law that has helped local communities protect themselves and their environment from dangerous, rushed, and poorly planned federal projects for over 45 years.
We teach our children to “look before you leap.” The NEPA process simply and sensibly requires our government to do the same by identifying any significant impacts a project may have on our health, environment, and livelihood before construction begins.
NEPA and its implementing procedures provide a strong foundation for informed, science-based decision-making and already provide ample flexibility.
As such, I am strongly opposed to CEQ’s proposed rule as well as any other changes to NEPA’s implementing procedures that would in any way restrict public input, limit consideration of project alternatives, establish hard deadlines for project approval, or narrow or eliminate federal agencies’ obligations to consider a project’s climate impacts.
I urge CEQ to abandon this rulemaking process altogether.
By signing this petition, I acknowledge that I may receive email updates from Protect NEPA coalition partners.
The Protect NEPA campaign works with a coalition of over twenty of the country’s largest environmental, labor, and civil rights advocacy groups – including Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, and League of Conservation Voters – to advance and defend NEPA across a broad range of key issue areas.