The Trump administration is considering major changes to the regulations that govern how federal agencies analyze the potential environmental impacts of their decisions.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the White House agency responsible for coordinating compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), put out a notice Tuesday soliciting input on the matter from the public.
“Over the past four decades, CEQ has issued numerous guidance documents but has amended its regulations substantively only once,” the agency said in the notice, due to be published in the Federal Register Wednesday (06/20/2019).
The solicitation stems from an August 2017 executive order President Trump signed that aimed to ease the permitting process for highways, bridges and other infrastructure projects. That was part of a major effort Trump is undertaking to get more infrastructure built.
CEQ asks in its notice a series of specific questions it wants public comment on. They include whether current regulations are obsolete, how environmental reviews can be made more efficient, whether CEQ should limit the number of pages in environmental review documents and whether it should redefine key terms for the purposes of the regulations.
Environmentalists and Democrats have long been critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to streamline environmental reviews, arguing that officials are trying to reduce protections meant to minimize the impacts of projects and silence objectors.
Once the notice is published in the Federal Register Wednesday, the public will have 30 days to weigh in.
Source: The Hill – Timothy Cama – 06/19/18 12:00 PM EDT