Last month, the federal administration launched its latest attack on our public health and environment. We need your help to fight back.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a critical law that empowers local communities to protect themselves and their environment from dangerous, rushed, or poorly planned federal projects. NEPA was passed to ensure that decisions made by federal agencies are made with transparency, consider all impacts to communities and the environment, and allow for public input.
Backed by powerful special interests, the Trump administration is trying to weaken NEPA’s protections, to make it easier to rubber stamp permits for corporate polluters and put toxic waste incinerators and other polluting projects next to places like schools and parks.
Environmental reviews protect our health, environment and livelihoods. The proposal to weaken NEPA is a severe attack on our public health and right to public participation. Identifying significant impacts of a project before beginning should be the bare minimum required by law.
Puget Sound is threatened by new development of fossil fuel projects that would benefit from weakening NEPA. In the past year, Soundkeeper and our members prepared detailed comment letters during the NEPA process to oppose the John Henry No. 1 Coal Mine in Black Diamond and the Tesoro Anacortes Xylenes proposal, and we support partners in using NEPA to oppose other coal export terminal projects around the Sound. Our region has spoken up loudly in opposition to dirty energy and the threat of fossil fuels, but now the administration wants to take away our right to have a voice.
The public must have input on major federal decisions, on how billions of tax dollars are spent, and on how projects impact vulnerable communities and our shared public resources. Thoughtful environmental review is critically important.
I am concerned about attacks on National Environmental Policy Act protections. Requiring the federal government to thoroughly review the environmental impacts of projects before approving them stops environmental disasters before they happen. NEPA also helps the federal government make better-informed decisions, preventing waste of taxpayer money.
The environmental review process also ensures that the government is transparent and takes into account concerns from the public. The only people that benefit from limiting environmental review and weakening NEPA are companies that want to ram forward destructive projects with as little scrutiny as possible.
I am strongly opposed to any changes to NEPA that would restrict meaningful and inclusive public input, limit consideration of project alternatives, establish hard deadlines for project approval, or narrow or eliminate federal agencies’ obligations to consider a project’s climate impacts.
Some of the potential changes to the NEPA process that concern me are: arbitrary deadlines and page limits, limiting the scope of environmental review, and restricting the ability of the public to give input. These changes will diminish the quality of environmental review and limit public input, and I therefore urge you to abandon this arbitrary and capricious effort. Instead, please seek to make the NEPA process more robust with greater opportunities for meaningful public participation to fulfill the statute’s purpose: “to encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation…”