Apr 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

White House restores climate change protections to environmental law removed by Trump

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Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The White House announced Tuesday that it has restored three "key" climate change protections to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that had been dismantled during the Trump administration.

State of play: The protections require federal agencies to evaluate the climate impacts of the projects they are working on, as well as encouraging them to work with communities to "mitigate or avoid environmental harms by analyzing common sense alternatives."

  • The new guidance also "restores the ability of Federal agencies to tailor their NEPA procedures ... to help meet the specific needs of their agencies, the public, and stakeholders."

Catch up fast: NEPA, a law first enacted in 1969, requires the federal government to consider the environmental impacts of its decision making.

  • Former President Trump got rid of some of the law's protections in 2020 because he said it would help create jobs and make it easier for his administration to build infrastructure.
  • Trump's changes made it harder for community activists to challenge government infrastructure projects. It also made it so that agencies didn't have to consider the consequences of their projects on the environment.

What they're saying: "Restoring these basic community safeguards will provide regulatory certainty, reduce conflict, and help ensure that projects get built right the first time," Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement.

  • "Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help projects get built faster, be more resilient, and provide greater benefits — to people who live nearby."

Between the lines: The Biden administration finalized the guidance during the week of Earth Day.

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