White House Changes to 50 Years of Environmental Review Are Irresponsible and Dangerous

Administration unveils final rule to weaken National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) today in Atlanta.

WASHINGTON - “Our new national motto seems to be ‘ready, fire…and don’t even bother aiming.’ That’s what the administration’s undoing of basic environmental protections adds up to,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “Since President Nixon signed into law these basic protections 50 years ago, the United States economy has grown tremendously while this law has stood guard for the safety of people, places, and wildlife. So, why, exactly, would we be gutting this legislation?”

At an event in Atlanta, Georgia today, President Trump unveiled the final changes his administration is making to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Passed in 1970, NEPA ensures that the harms from proposed actions are considered and that the public knows what agencies are planning with a chance to weigh in before they are approved.

“From vital bird habitat in Alaska’s wilderness to fishing grounds off the coast of Florida these changes will effectively allow the administration to ignore the very real impacts that climate change, not to mention pollution, logging, and drilling, can have on communities,” said Yarnold. “Impacts that we know are far greater in rural and low-income areas, and on communities of color, who are already marginalized by so many other systems in this country.”

Among the changes made by the administration is the elimination of accounting for the cumulative and indirect impacts of activities, like climate change, which are often part of the biggest risks from proposed projects, like an oil and gas pipeline.

“We have lost approximately 3 billion North American birds since 1970 and climate change threatens extinction for two-thirds of bird species,” said Nada Culver, vice president of public lands and senior policy counsel for the National Audubon Society. “Inscribing the administration’s willful ignorance of the need to address climate change into regulations is irresponsible and dangerous.”

The National Audubon Society has submitted formal comments opposing these changes and thousands of its members have also weighed in through the previous comment process. It is the organization’s view that the revisions will render NEPA unrecognizable when compared to the intent of the original law, and have ripple effects across conservation, health, and safety.

“These changes are utterly inconsistent with the National Environmental Policy Act, which has guarded the environment and the public for fifty years” said Culver. “Unfortunately, this is consistent with so many administration actions undermining safeguards for clean water, communities, the survival of birds and other species, and the climate of our planet.”

You can read the National Audubon Society’s formal comments on the changes here.

You can read a blog from Nada Culver on the proposed changes here.


Media Contact: Matt Smelser, matt.smelser@audubon.org, 512.739.9635

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.