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President Biden in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration announced plans Wednesday to restore climate change protections to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that were dismantled when former President Trump was in office.

Why it matters: The White House Council on Environmental Quality plans to bring back a requirement for federal agencies to "evaluate all the relevant environmental impacts of the decisions they are making" for projects such as highways, mines, gas pipelines and water infrastructure, per a CEQ statement.

How it works: Once these provisions were restored, the second phase of the overhaul would begin. This would involve "broader" changes that would focus on community feedback and "fair public involvement in the environmental review process," according to the CEQ.

The big picture: Trump said when he announced the changes to create jobs and make it easier for his administration to build infrastructure that his action would remove "mountains and mountains of red tape" that he claimed had caused delays to projects, per Bloomberg.

  • The CEQ argues that the 2020 changes "caused implementation challenges for agencies, and sowed confusion among stakeholders and the general public."
  • "Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help reduce conflict and litigation and help clear up some of the uncertainty that the previous administration's rule caused," CEQ chair Brenda Mallory said in a statement.

Of note: Some Republicans and business leaders who backed Trump's rollbacks raised concerns that additional reviews would "hinder the development of badly needed projects, including the public transit and clean energy infrastructure" that Biden and other Democrats are seeking, the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: Chad Whiteman, vice president for environment and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute said in a statement: "By rolling back some of the most important updates to our antiquated permitting process, the Biden Administration's new proposed NEPA rule will only serve to slow down building the infrastructure of the future."

Go deeper: A conversation on bold climate commitments

Go deeper

What to know about COP26 in Glasgow

A banner advertising the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K., on Oct. 20. Photo: Ian Forsyth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than 100 world leaders — as well as thousands of diplomats and business leaders — are set to converge on Glasgow, Scotland, starting Oct. 31 to try to set new emissions reduction goals at the COP26 climate summit.

Why it matters: It's an annual meeting, but this year's assembly is viewed as crucial, since climate scientists warn that time is running out to secure necessary greenhouse gas emissions cuts to avoid potentially devastating climate change impacts during the next several decades.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
20 hours ago - Energy & Environment

The new offshore wind seascape

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. David Hardy. Photo: Courtesy of Ørsted Offshore North America

Global offshore wind heavyweight Ørsted already sees a regulatory sea-change under President Biden, but also says Congress has an important role to play.

Why it matters: A number of companies are planning to build what will be the first large-scale U.S. offshore projects.

Study: More infectious diseases inevitable due to climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Climate change is creating ideal conditions for infectious diseases to spread more quickly, according to The Lancet Countdown's annual climate report out Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's just one of the increasingly urgent threats to human health emerging from global climate change.

The big picture: Climate studies show that extreme weather events — such as more powerful hurricanes, heavier rainstorms, larger wildfires and hotter and longer-lasting heat waves — are worsening worldwide due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy, Axios' Andrew Freeman reports.

  • These events have had serious impacts on the health of entire regions and the vulnerable causing preventable deaths, food and water insecurity and the spread of infectious diseases.