The White House announced the reinstatement of three key NEPA provisions on Tuesday, reinstating more rigorous environmental review of major infrastructure projects. The finalized rule restores provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, the nation’s bedrock environmental law, requiring review of the climate impacts of proposed projects and the potential impacts on nearby communities. “Communities of color, especially, have relied on NEPA to make sure their voices are heard in decisions that have a profound impact on their health and their well-being,” Rosalie Winn, a senior attorney at EDF, said in a statement.
Mustafa Santiago Ali, VP of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization at NWF, agreed. Adding, “the Biden administration still has work to do to ensure federal decision makers prioritize the input of front-line and historically marginalized communities and fully restore” NEPA. White House CEQ Director Brenda Mallory said the rule will speed up projects’ completion by heading off legal challenges. The rule’s finalization comes as the Biden administration is resuming oil and gas leasing on federal lands, releasing unprecedented amounts of oil from the SPR, and seeking to increase exports of liquified methane gas — while scientists warn continued extraction and combustion of fossil fuels will result in “an unlivable world.” (NEPA: AP, Axios, Washington Post $, E&E News, Reuters, Wall Street Journal $, Politico, New York Times $, The Hill, HuffPost, Washington Examiner; Pro-fossil actions: Axios, E&E News, Washington Post $)