Press Release Jun 27, 2024

Parks Group Joins Fight to Block Baseless Attacks on Bedrock Environmental Law

A lawsuit would dismantle revitalized NEPA rules that highlight environmental justice and climate change, threatening national parks, public lands and communities. 

Washington, DC—Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) joined a diverse coalition of environmental justice, labor and conservation groups moving to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s finalized phase II regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The lawsuit, filed by twenty-one state attorneys general, aims to block the updated regulations that ensure federal decisions, including about how public lands are used, get input from communities, Tribes, and climate change scientists.

In April 2024, the Council on Environmental Quality finalized the phase II regulations that require federal agencies to consider climate and environmental justice impacts in their NEPA analyses and mandate meaningful, early consultation with impacted communities, including Tribes.

For more than 50 years, NEPA has protected America’s public lands and national parks. This crucial law gives people a voice in how their public lands are used, ensuring that impacts to our air, water and wildlife are properly considered before development projects move forward. Through NEPA, NPCA has been able to play a role in project development on and near national park lands. From road repairs in Acadia National Park that protected the park’s historic character to expansion projects of Highway 93 near Glacier National Park that were changed by input from local tribes and environmental groups to ensure protection of cultural resources and the safety of visitors, time and again this bedrock environmental law has reinforced effective decision-making in and near our national parks.

“This senseless lawsuit threatens everything that NPCA and park advocates across the country have fought so hard to protect,” said Kristen Brengel, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for NPCA. “It’s simply unconscionable that we would ignore years of science-driven data or discourage the American public from being involved in decisions that impact the lands where we live, the water we drink and the air we breathe.“

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of NEPA in ensuring the American public is heard and represented in decisions that impact their public lands. The public has long voiced concerns about climate change and environmental justice impacts, and we have every right to have these issues considered in decisions that impact us so profoundly. That’s what makes this process meaningful and fair, and what helps protect the health and future of our national parks and communities,” said Brengel.

NPCA and 19 other organizations challenging the lawsuit are represented by Earthjustice.

“This partisan lawsuit is nothing more than a short-sighted attempt to silence communities that are in harm’s way and ignore both scientific and Indigenous knowledge when making federal decisions,” said Earthjustice Senior Attorney Jan Hasselman. “It’s greed over communities once again.”

“While NEPA has historically been used to address environmental priorities, we also use it to address a project’s impact on labor, immigrant, and human rights,” said Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) Executive Director Jose Vargas. “The labor movement cares deeply about building clean energy projects quickly and efficiently. The updated NEPA provisions give us a voice in the process, help us advocate for important worker protections and environmental standards, and result in stronger, more resilient projects.”

“NEPA is often one of the few measures environmental justice communities have to bring their concerns directly to decisionmakers,” said People’s Collective for Environmental Justice Co-Founder and Policy Analyst Andrea Vidaurre. “The Inland Empire has some of the worst air pollution in the country, and the NEPA process gives communities like mine the ability to voice our concerns, demand transparency, and hold decisionmakers accountable. Attacking the new provisions to consider environmental justice impacts would cause irreparable harm to my community and others living with the disparate impacts of polluting industries.”

“Under NEPA, the federal government must look before it leaps and use the best available western and Indigenous science to inform its decisions,” said Susan Jane Brown, Chief Legal Counsel with Silvix Resources. “The states’ lawsuit challenges this common-sense approach to decision making.”

“Despite this partisan lawsuit’s claims, recognizing and integrating tribal management practices and knowledge can lead to mutual benefits for both federal and tribal governments,” said Environmental Protection Information Center Conservation Attorney Melodie Meyer. “Tribal governments and communities possess unique perspectives and knowledge that are crucial to integrate into the NEPA process. As a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, I know that if federal agencies do not consider Indigenous knowledge, they miss out on opportunities to manage resources more sustainably. Indigenous knowledge and environmental justice are legitimate concerns that must be addressed when making important decisions on consequential projects.”


About the 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 1.6 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