WASHINGTON -- Environment America joined a nationwide coalition of environmental organizations Wednesday, led by Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center, in filing a suit to strike down the federal government’s recent rule gutting the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The suit was filed in the Northern District of California.
NEPA was signed into law 50 years ago by then-President Richard Nixon with overwhelming bipartisan support. Among other provisions, the law requires that federal agencies take a hard look at the environmental consequences of proposed actions, and solicit public comment on those actions.
In January, the Trump administration announced its intention to make major revisions to NEPA. But contrary to the intent of NEPA, the administration held the comment period open for a mere 60 days. Since then, Environment America has strongly opposed the rollback, issuing several statements and a report. Perhaps most notably, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Katie Murtha testified in front of the Council on Environmental Quality (an agency ironically created by NEPA) in February urging the administration to reconsider its proposal. Unfortunately, the Trump administration plowed forward, issuing its final rule earlier this month.
In response to today’s filing, Katie Murtha issued the following statement:
“The concept behind NEPA is actually quite simple: look before you leap. It requires the government to take a hard look at the environmental consequences of any major federal project before it begins. It also allows the public to have input and involvement in the process. Frankly, like apple pie, NEPA is a uniquely American concept.
“As today’s lawsuit notes, NEPA is often called the Magna Carta of environmental laws. For 50 years, it has quietly protected some of our most precious environmentally-sensitive places. But by rolling it back, this administration is putting our environment at significantly greater risk, and has recklessly taken away a key tool we have in ensuring the federal government acts as a responsible trustee for future generations.”
“We cannot stand idly by as the Trump administration cuts the heart out of this cornerstone environmental law. We are proud to join with other like-minded organizations in continuing to fight this dangerous rollback in the courts.”