Trump To Remove Climate Change Impact From Infrastructure Planning
The Trump administration has told federal agencies to ignore climate change factors in determining the environmental impact of major infrastructure projects, according to The Independent.
Two senior administration officials told the publication that the proposed changes involve the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and aim to expedite “approvals for pipelines, oil and gas leases, highway construction and other kinds of development.”
NEPA “has proved to be one of the most potent stumbling blocks to Mr Trump’s push to accelerate oil, gas, and coal extraction across the country,” The Independent noted.
The Trump administration’s attempt to resume coal leasing on public land was thwarted by federal judges “on the grounds that the Interior Department did not properly assess the climate impacts of these decisions.” Oil and gas leasing in Wyoming faced a similar fate.
In order to move forward, the administration seeks to shorten the timeframe for environmental reviews, the officials said, and do away with considering the cumulative impact of projects.
“Climate change is no longer a top priority for these reviews,” one official told the publication.
In January, President Donald Trump was critical of the current rules governing NEPA, saying: “While the goals of Nepa remain the same as they did 50 years ago, the environmental review process designed to improve decision-making has become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate.”
He added: “Project sponsors and ordinary Americans seeking decisions on permits from the federal government can face significant uncertainty and delays that can increase costs, derail important projects, and threaten jobs for American workers and labour union members.”
The Trump administration is “clearly trying to institutionalize climate denial into federal decision making,” said Stephen Schima, senior legislative counsel for the firm Earthjustice.
“This is the existential threat to how the government incorporates climate change into their decision-making process,” he added.