Don’t let the Trump administration kneecap NEPA!

Hudson River, NY | Photo by Jupiter Images

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the cornerstone federal environmental law

NEPA was enacted in 1969, among the first wave of environmental legislation passed in the late sixties and early seventies – the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968, the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Endangered Species Act in 1973 – in an attempt to reverse the degradation of the nation’s air, water, and natural resources.  It is the cornerstone federal environmental law, requiring that any major action undertaken, permitted or funded by the federal government be assessed to determine its impact on our air, land and waters. 

NEPA is based on the common-sense notion of “look before you leap,” that we should know the impacts that federal actions such as constructing highways, pipelines, dams, power plants, transmission lines and other projects will have on the nation’s land, air, and water before we build them.  The law provides opportunities for communities and individuals to learn about projects affecting their neighborhoods, evaluate the impacts of the project as described in the EIS, and make their voices heard through the public comment process.

The Trump administration’s proposals to undermine the law, on the other hand, defy common sense.  Lowlights include:

  • Redefining “major federal action” to eliminate NEPA review of a large swath of federal activity;
  • Ending requirements to consider the cumulative impacts of multiple projects;
  • Inviting private sector project proponents to prepare their own environmental reviews (Fox, welcome to the chicken coop!);
  • Allowing federal agencies to completely ignore climate change(!) when evaluating projects; and
  • Severely curtailing public participation, tearing out the very heart of the Act.

Fortunately, our voices haven’t been silenced yet.  Use the form below to tell the Council on Environmental Quality that this proposal won't work. Time is short, so act now! The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule is March 10, 2020. 



Associate Director
Council on Environmental Quality