Cantwell Blasts Trump Rollback of Bedrock Environmental Protections

Proposed NEPA rewrite would block local communities from voicing concerns about environmentally-damaging projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, blasted the Trump administration’s decision to undermine and fundamentally weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the nation’s premier environmental protection law. These changes would exclude climate impacts from consideration in future NEPA reviews, weaken the ability of citizens to comment on Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), narrow the number of federal projects subject to NEPA reviews, limit the consideration of project alternatives, and create artificial deadlines and page limits to help jam through controversial projects.

"NEPA has provided generations of Americans a say in federal decisions that impact the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the public lands we cherish,” Cantwell said. “This NEPA rewrite favors big polluters and corporate profits over balanced, science-based decision making and would prevent Washingtonians from voicing their views on proposals ranging from siting a new fossil fuel pipeline in their backyard to building an open-pit mine that could destroy the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. We need to make smarter environmental decisions, not roll back the safeguards we already have."

Originally authored by Washington state Senator Scoop Jackson, NEPA passed through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970. The law requires federal agencies to engage in a review process designed to identify and publicly disclose significant environmental impacts a federal action may have before a decision on that project is made. It also provides communities with the ability to weigh in on projects that could impact health and safety or exacerbate climate change.

Earlier today, the Trump administration announced it would eliminate the NEPA requirement of a detailed environmental review, paving the way for accelerated construction of fossil fuel projects in communities throughout the country.