Press Release Jan 26, 2018

Public Lands, Clean Air and Water Lose with Trump Administration Infrastructure Proposal

“Strengthening infrastructure within our national parks and across the country should not come at the expense of weakening environmental protections – period." -- Theresa Pierno

WASHINGTON – Today, the Washington Post revealed a draft outline of the Trump Administration’s much-anticipated legislative proposal for infrastructure. Analysis by National Parks Conservation found that, in short, the outline aims to accelerate infrastructure projects, at the cost of clean water, clear air, expertise of federal agency staff, judicial review, longstanding bedrock environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association

“Strengthening infrastructure within our national parks and across the country should not come at the expense of weakening environmental protections – period. The administration’s legislative outline for infrastructure sacrifices clean air, water, the expertise of career agency staff and bedrock environmental laws. In short, the proposal reveals that this administration is not serious about restoring America’s infrastructure.

“Thanks to the very safeguards that are threatened in this proposal, we have a tunnel versus a high-level bridge marring the view from Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Within and outside of our national parks, protection of our air, water and wildlife comes from collaboration – which is the component that this administration appears intent on eliminating. National Park Service involvement helped prevent a mega mall on Forest Service land near the Grand Canyon. Environmental review helped prevent a new visitor center at Timpanogos Cave National Monument from being built in danger rock-fall area. There are countless examples across our park system where both collaboration and comprehensive review led to smart decision making.

“If Congress and the administration are serious about helping our parks, which face an $11.3 billion infrastructure repair backlog, they should start by making the bipartisan, bicameral National Park Service Legacy Act law. National Parks Conservation Association urges the administration to return to the drawing board and provide a proposal that benefits the American people, our health, safety and public lands.”

Additional Background The proposed changes could dramatically shift the current accountability the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) shares with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), essentially removing EPA’s albeit limited, oversight. Congress set up dual management to ensure EPA helps protect our water resources, as it is mandated to do under the Clean Water Act.

NEPA is the backbone of public engagement in our nation’s project planning, ensuring local communities are provided adequate information about any significant public health or environmental impacts of a proposed federal project. The legislative outline undermines the essential purpose of NEPA in favor of expediting infrastructure projects. A recent poll done revealed that 64 percent of voters oppose an infrastructure proposal that would weaken environmental protections in order to build more projects.

Click here for additional analysis of the legislative proposal by NPCA’s policy experts.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.