Our NEPA Suit Still Paused As Biden Administration Finishes Efforts to Restore Rules Trump Axed

Published Mar 27, 2024


Climate and Energy

Trump tried to gut one of the most important environmental laws of our time, and we fought back.

Trump tried to gut one of the most important environmental laws of our time, and we fought back.

Over the past 50 years, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has become the cornerstone of U.S. environmental law, and nations worldwide have replicated its model. NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions, creating a critical framework for the government to identify environmental risks and for the public to get involved. NEPA is meant to foster sound decision-making and transparency, and it has succeeded in providing opportunities for effective community organizing that can raise the alarm on and ultimately defeat many dangerous projects.

The Trump administration gutted long-standing NEPA regulations that required all federal agencies to consider indirect and cumulative impacts – like contributions to climate change – and required review of actions like federal financing of factory farms. Working with a broad coalition, we challenged this rollback in federal court.

Our litigation has been on pause as the Biden Administration reconsidered the rules in two phases. While the Biden Administration should have immediately rescinded the illegal Trump rules in their entirety, it remedied the worst of the rollbacks in its Phase I rule, finalized in May 2022. The Biden administration then released its proposed Phase II rule in July 2023, which continued to reinstate many of the core components of NEPA. We participated in both rulemakings, advocating for strong regulations that are protective of public health and the environment. The final Phase II rule, marking the completion of the Biden administration’s efforts to undo the damage of the Trump administration, is anticipated this spring.

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