“The Trump administration’s plan to speed up project reviews for pipelines, mines, highways, and other infrastructure would scale back how agencies consider climate change in the process—running counter to a stack of legal precedent that’s been growing for years.
The Council on Environmental Quality’s Jan. 9 proposal to accelerate National Environmental Policy Act reviews says the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and other agencies should limit their analysis to impacts that have a “close causal relationship” with the proposed government action at issue. The draft also directs agencies to halt their practice of studying cumulative impacts: a project’s broader effects when considered alongside other existing and anticipated development.
If finalized, the new regulations could reduce but not eliminate climate considerations in NEPA reviews. That cuts against a fast-growing set of court decisions that say agencies must do more to study the planet-warming impacts of their decisions.
“You can’t unwrite those cases,” said Christy Goldfuss, who led CEQ during the Obama administration.”