Press Release Jan 9, 2020

Trump Administration Aims to Gut Environmental Law that Protects Public Health, Environment and National Parks

The administration is attempting to gut a law that has protected America’s public lands and national parks for the last 50 years. 

Washington, D.C. – The Trump administration today released draft regulations to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of our country’s bedrock environmental laws. NEPA requires government agencies to carefully consider public health and our environment before permitting proposed projects on federal lands, while also giving the public a voice in the process. From road repairs in Acadia National Park that secured the park’s historic character to expansion projects of Highway 93 near Glacier National Park that considered input from local tribes and ensured protection of cultural resources and the safety of visitors, time and again this bedrock environmental law has reinforced effective decision making in our national parks.

But over the last three years, the administration has instituted policies to remove environmental reviews and continues to go to great lengths to minimize public input on federal projects in and around our national parks. And now, the administration is moving to further curtail expertise and limit the government and public’s ability to address the long-term impacts of climate change on federal projects and follow a “smart from the start” design for new infrastructure — potentially costing American taxpayers more as climate disasters increase.

Proposed revisions could have major implications for national parks and their communities, including:

  • Unnecessarily limiting the time needed to complete environmental reviews and public involvement;
  • Putting frontline communities, who have already been most impacted by environmental degradation, at further risk, especially as NEPA is key to ensuring protections for clean water and clear air;
  • Restricting the federal government’s ability to take substantive action to combat climate change, as NEPA is one of the few last remaining pieces of law that required climate change impacts be considered in permitting process.

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

“The administration is attempting to gut a law that has protected America’s public lands and national parks for the last 50 years. This law has given people a voice in how their public lands are used, and ensures the environment, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, is taken into account before development projects move forward. NEPA made the process fair, giving all parties a say in how to best use public lands that belong to all of us. This move is nothing more than another attempt by the administration to tip the scale in favor of industry. And our parks and public lands, and all who visit them, will pay the price.

“These unprecedented revisions deliberately ignore years of science-driven data, letting the government and industry off the hook for addressing the impacts of climate change on our national parks. Across the country, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and intensifying storms and wildfires are already destroying our national parks, which are home to countless historic and cultural resources. But the administration’s deliberate steps to undermine science and expertise will only make matters worse. We need solutions to tackle the climate crisis now, not reforms that make it easier to stick our heads in the sand.”

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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 more than 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.