“White House Mum on Land Projects Sped Up for Virus Recovery”

“Public lands infrastructure projects being fast-tracked as a Covid-19 pandemic response under a June 4 executive order will be kept from public view, the White House said Tuesday.

Environmental attorneys and other legal practitioners say the White House’s shroud over the expedited projects suggests that the administration’s efforts to use the economic fallout from Covid-19 to circumvent environmental regulations may not be legal.

“I think not making the list public suggests that they may actually recognize the huge legal risks they are assuming in ignoring long-standing environmental review requirements without adequate justification, and that they are apparently just hoping that the public won’t notice,” said Elizabeth Klein, deputy director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law.

The executive order gave the Interior, Agriculture and Defense secretaries each 30 days to provide the Office of Management and Budget a summary report identifying projects they plan fast-track as part of the government’s pandemic response. The agencies’ deadline for identifying those projects passed July 4.”

Bobby Magill reports for Bloomberg Environment July 7, 2020.