Press Release

State Attorneys General Challenge Unprecedented and Unlawful Rewrite of NEPA Regulations

David J. Hayes criticizes administration's brazen attempt to undermine NEPA, commends AGs for once again serving as "last line of defense."

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. A coali­tion of 23 attor­neys gen­er­al filed a law­suit today chal­leng­ing the Trump administration’s unlaw­ful, unjus­ti­fied and sweep­ing revi­sions” to the reg­u­la­tions that guide imple­men­ta­tion of the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act (NEPA). The law­suit chal­lenges a final rule pub­lished by the White House Coun­cil on Envi­ron­men­tal Qual­i­ty (CEQ) in July that nar­rows the range of projects, impacts and alter­na­tives that must be con­sid­ered by fed­er­al agen­cies, estab­lish­es arbi­trary time con­straints and page lim­its on NEPA reviews, and cur­tails mean­ing­ful pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion and input. David J. Hayes, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter at NYU School of Law and for­mer Inte­ri­or Deputy Sec­re­tary in the Oba­ma and Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tions, released the fol­low­ing state­ment:

State attor­neys gen­er­al again are step­ping up, this time to stop the Trump admin­is­tra­tion from going back on the basic good gov­ern­ment’ promise that before fed­er­al offi­cials approve major projects, they must review poten­tial adverse impacts, make them pub­lic, and hear the views of affect­ed citizens. 

The administration’s final NEPA rule shat­ters that long-stand­ing legal promise embed­ded in one of our nation’s ear­li­est and most impor­tant envi­ron­men­tal laws, the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act.

In par­tic­u­lar, the final rule aban­dons any envi­ron­men­tal review for broad cat­e­gories of project approvals that will leave our most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens — includ­ing many already impact­ed by his­toric, unjust envi­ron­men­tal harms — voice­less and at the mer­cy of an admin­is­tra­tion that favors indus­try prof­its over Amer­i­cans’ health and well-being. And when reviews are begrudg­ing­ly under­tak­en, the new rule enables offi­cials to down­play or skip alto­geth­er seri­ous analy­ses of cli­mate impacts and health dan­gers asso­ci­at­ed with pro­posed projects and con­nect­ed activities.

We should not need to rely on our last line of defense — state attor­neys gen­er­al — to enforce the rule of law. But here we are again, need­ing to turn to state legal offi­cers and the fed­er­al courts to right the lat­est nation­al envi­ron­men­tal wrongs that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is impos­ing on the Amer­i­can people.”

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About the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter
The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter (State Impact Cen­ter) is a non-par­ti­san Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law that is ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing state attor­neys gen­er­al fight against reg­u­la­to­ry roll­backs and advo­cate for clean ener­gy, cli­mate change, and envi­ron­men­tal val­ues and pro­tec­tions. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it our web­site.