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Hearing Today on Revisions to Landmark Environmental Law

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Since taking office, President Donald Trump has proposed nearly 100 environmental rollbacks. (FullThrottle6969/Pixabay)
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has proposed nearly 100 environmental rollbacks. (FullThrottle6969/Pixabay)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
February 11, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In order to speed up construction of infrastructure and energy-development projects, the Trump administration has proposed controversial revisions to a landmark environmental law. And some fear the changes will have devastating consequences. The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, will be the subject of a public hearing in Denver today.

For 50 years, NEPA has allowed citizens, scientists and other stakeholders a voice when pipelines, highways or bridges are constructed. Jeremy Romero, regional connectivity coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation, said the proposed revisions would not only weaken environmental protections, but also restrict public input.

"It's better to be thorough and take the time to adequately address all the concerns of the environment than to just streamline work just for the sake of getting it done," Romero said.

Today's Denver meeting is one of two public hearings on proposed revisions to the 50-year-old environmental law. A second will be held in Washington, D.C., on February 25.

A poll released by Hart Research Associates showed 55% of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration's revisions to NEPA. Respondents said they don't agree that companies should be allowed to complete their own environmental reviews or eliminate consideration of how projects affect climate.

Romero said he believes New Mexico could be particularly vulnerable to NEPA revisions.

"Especially in areas of the Southwest where the local communities depend so heavily on the public lands, National Forest system lands, Bureau of Land Management lands - they rely heavily on these lands for multiple reasons," he said.

NEPA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970 after a river caught fire in Ohio and a tanker spilled 3 million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.

Public comments on the issue can be made through March 10 at nwf.org/nepa.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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