Proponents of major projects like pipelines, highways, and dams will once again be required to account for climate change in the permitting process, the Biden administration announced Wednesday. The move to restore climate protections to NEPA reverses actions by the previous administration to weaken environmental protections. Under the administration’s proposed changes to the National Environmental Protection Act, the country’s bedrock environmental law, federal agencies will consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative climate impacts of permitting decisions, which the administration says will reduce confusion caused, and litigation induced, by the previous administration’s rule. Environmental advocates generally praised the NEPA change, while some argue it does not go far enough.
“The Biden administration must move urgently and go much further to begin breaking down systemic environmental injustice and addressing climate chaos and the extinction crisis,” Randi Spivak, of the Center for Biological Diversity, told E&E News. “Otherwise the catastrophic oil spills, wildfires and mass extinctions that appall us today will become frighteningly commonplace.” (E&E News, AP, New York Times $, Washington Post $, CNN, Bloomberg Law, Argus Media, Politico Pro $, Roll Call, Reuters, HuffPost, The Hill)