Statement on Updated NEPA Regulations

07/16/2020 10:43 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

The Trump Administration has released the final version of its new regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

ACRA is concerned about many of the changes to NEPA implementation, including:

  1. Fewer actions will be subject to NEPA review;
  2. The ability of the public to raise concerns about effects is reduced;
  3. The types of effects to be considered by the agencies are limited;
  4. Arbitrary timelines and page limits may reduce consideration of cultural resource impacts; and
  5. The regulations introduce confusing new terms that will invite litigation and delay projects, the opposite of what the Administration says it intends with these new rules.

Given the decades of precedent and case history surrounding NEPA, America’s bedrock environmental law, ACRA maintains that any changes should be made with care, consideration, and robust stakeholder involvement. Instead, the Trump Administration rushed through the comment period during a global pandemic and failed to include meaningful government-to-government consultation with tribes.

At each step in the process, ACRA and its partners at the Coalition for American Heritage raised concerns about the rule’s anticipated effects on consideration of historic resources. ACRA members submitted letters to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) using their expertise to outlinehow the proposed rule could harm historic preservation efforts. Both ACRA and the Coalition also submitted comment letters to CEQ in which we highlighted the potential dangers to cultural resources. To read a ACRA's comments, click here. In addition, the Coalition met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House to provide additional details of our concerns. We are therefore disappointed that the Administration failed to meaningfully address our concerns.

It is likely that this rule will be challenged in court, and Congress and/or a future Administration could take steps to reverse these changes. ACRA will continue monitoring the impacts of the new rule as it goes into effect. We invite our members to contact us with examples of the impacts they see these new regulations having on the projects on which they work.


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