Biden administration to reinstate climate criteria in landmark environmental law

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it would restore climate change protections to the country’s basic environm...


WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it would restore climate change protections to the country’s basic environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, which former President Donald J. Trump had weakened with the aim of accelerating the approval of projects such as mines, pipelines, dams and highways.

The proposed changes would require the federal government to assess the climate change impacts of major new projects as part of the authorization process. They come as Congress assesses a plan to spend billions of dollars on Infrastructure improvements across the United States.

The Trump administration had freed agencies to scrutinize how new power plants or pipelines, for example, could lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, which are warming the planet at dangerous levels. It required agencies to analyze only “reasonably foreseeable” impacts. Mr Trump said the change would remove “mountains and mountains of red tape” that he said had delayed projects across the country.

But these changes have caused confusion and have been difficult to implement, according to Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“Filling these gaps in the environmental review process will help reduce conflict and litigation and help dispel some of the uncertainty caused by the previous administration’s rule,” she said in a statement.

As part of the changes proposed by the Biden administration, agencies will need to consider the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of a decision, including assessing the consequences of releasing additional pollution into neighborhoods already loaded with dirty air. .

“The basic community safeguards that we propose to restore would help ensure that America’s infrastructure is built right the first time and delivers real benefit, not damage, to the people who live nearby,” Mallory said.

Leading Democrats and environmental groups have adopted the decision.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona and chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, called it a “necessary first step” to “better protect communities from polluted air and water , especially those that are already overburdened by the cumulative effects of multiple sources of pollution.

Delaware Democrat Senator Tom Carper and chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new rule would end legal uncertainty around the law. In June, a federal district court in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Trump-era overhaul, but many more lawsuits are pending.

“At a time when we are on the verge of making a once-in-a-generation investment in our country’s infrastructure, the changes proposed today will improve certainty to avoid project slowdowns and litigation,” said Mr. Carper.

Some Republicans and business leaders who backed Mr. Trump’s changes warned Wednesday that adding review levels would hamper the development of much-needed projects, including the transit and clean energy infrastructure Mr. Biden and the Democrats.

“By undoing some of the most important updates to our outdated authorization process, the new NEPA rule proposed by the Biden administration will only serve to slow down the construction of the infrastructure of the future,” said Chad Whiteman, Vice President of Environment and Regulatory Affairs at the Global Energy Institute of the US Chamber of Commerce.

The new rule also proposes to give federal agencies the power to work closely with communities to develop alternative approaches to projects.

The National Environmental Protection Act was enacted by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, following several environmental disasters, including a crude oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, and a series of fires on the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio. .

The Biden administration is expected to publish its proposed rule in the Federal Register Thursday and will collect public comment on its plans for 45 days before issuing a final policy.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden administration to reinstate climate criteria in landmark environmental law
Biden administration to reinstate climate criteria in landmark environmental law
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