The deadline to let the federal government know that transparency and citizen participation are essential to any major projects it undertakes has been extended to Aug. 20. But don't wait until then to let the government know that the National Environmental Policy Act should be protected.
At a time when Trump administration officials are engaged in unprecedented grift, trading personal favors for policies that favor polluters, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is rushing headlong toward a future where agency officials can make backroom deals, reward political friends, and ignore the effects to air, water, and public health, with no accountability to the public.
CEQ is taking comments on a proposed revision to the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, one of our nation’s bedrock environmental protections. For nearly 50 years, NEPA has ensured transparency and accountability when government decisions threaten environmental, public health, and economic impacts.
NEPA works by requiring that agencies explain why they’re taking action and whether there are other, less harmful alternatives to meet those needs. It also ensures that public and local community leaders have an opportunity to comment on decisions that affect them.
Time and time again, NEPA has helped protect communities from poorly planned projects that can harm health, waste taxpayer money, and impact important natural resources. Study after study shows this law often prevents costly boondoggles from getting the green light and prompts consideration and implementation of less costly, less damaging alternatives. This proposal from the Trump administration would let lobbyists’ move their pet projects back behind closed doors, eroding thoughtful, transparent decisionmaking, and taking away the guarantee that communities will have their voices heard.
NEPA has underpinned American life for almost 50 years. We take for granted that we get to know what the government is doing. We take for granted that the government will solicit our input. Generally NEPA works so smoothly, we don’t even realize it is there.
Have you ever participated in a public hearing? Have you ever read details about a new highway or pipeline in the newspaper? Have you ever emailed to let the government know how a decision might affect you? Chances are that NEPA has touched your life in ways big and small. Soon, however, President Trump might make this way of life a thing of the past.
To avoid this future, citizens need to submit a comment on the rule by Aug. 20. In the comment, let your voice be heard and tell your story.
- Let the Trump administration know it’s important to have public input on major federal decisions
- Let the Trump administration know it’s important to review a range of alternatives before we spend millions and billions in taxpayer dollars.
- Let the Trump administration know that it’s essential we consider how projects will impact low income communities and communities of color.
- Let the Trump administration know that we need input from a number of agencies with different expertise to fully grasp the impact of a project.