Jan 4, 2020

Report: Revision to environmental law could limit climate change review

Unused pipe for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline sits outside Gascoyne, North Dakota in 2014. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A new Trump administration proposal aims to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act, which would make infrastructure and fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline easier to accomplish, the New York Times reports.

What's happening: The proposed revision would allow agencies to ignore "cumulative" consequences of major infrastructure projects — which courts have interpreted as weighing a project's impact on climate change.

Details: The law in question is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which Congress first passed in 1970. It dictates the government's environmental reviews of major infrastructure and energy projects.

  • A government official "who has seen the proposed regulation but was not authorized to speak about it publicly" told the Times that the Trump administration also plans to narrow the scope of which projects require environmental review.
  • "That could make it likely that more projects will sail through the approval process without having to disclose plans to do things like discharge waste, cut trees or increase air pollution," the NYT's Lisa Friedman writes.

What to watch: Final action on the matter is expected before November's presidential election, per the Times.

Between the lines, via Axios' Amy Harder: Global warming, along with other environmental issues, could get short shrift with the change, but big changes in the law would likely require congressional approval, like the original law itself.

Go deeper: EPA's Trump-appointed scientific advisers criticize new proposals

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Trump announces rule changes to exempt big projects from environmental review

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump on Thursday announced that his administration is vastly narrowing the scope of a 50-year-old law governing environmental reviews of large infrastructure and energy projects.

Why it matters: The proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will make the process to review big-ticket fossil-fuel projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline easier and faster, while also excluding consideration of climate change.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020

Amid chaos, new decade brings big global warming changes

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We’ve had enough news in recent days to suggest we’re 13 months, not days, into this decade.

Driving the news: President Trump pushes the biggest changes to environmental law in 50 years, the world’s biggest investor is going big on global warming and House Democrats are going it alone on climate policy. And this all just happened last week!

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

Trump administration set to remove protections for waterways

A red-winged blackbird and a great egret at Madrona Marsh Wetlands in Torrance, California. Photo: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Trump administration is set to unveil Thursday the final rules that scale back environmental protections for water bodies including streams and wetlands, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: This is one of the biggest environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration yet. Withdrawing and replacing the Obama-era rule that expanded protections has been a big priority for powerful industries such as the agricultural sector, real estate developers and fossil fuel producers, Axios' Ben Geman notes.

Go deeperArrowJan 23, 2020