A nationwide coalition of organizations from the environmental justice, outdoor recreation, and conservation communities filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s attack on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) this afternoon.

The administration finalized its rules that will eviscerate core components of NEPA in mid-July. Under new regulations put forth by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), polluting projects of all kinds will be exempt from basic environmental reviews, and the public will be cut out of one of its best tools to prevent dangerous, shortsighted projects.

“It has been more than 30 years since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and environmental justice communities continue to live with the impacts of decisions that precipitated its need,” said  Kerene N. Tayloe, Esq., Director of Federal Legislative Affairs at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “The changes made to this bedrock environmental law will further undermine basic protections, including the public’s right to participate in decision making and the obligation of the government to fully and thoroughly study the cumulative impacts of health hazards on overburdened communities. They also reflect a disregard of Black, Brown and poor communities and the unwillingness of this administration to execute laws in a way that benefits all Americans. WE ACT for Environmental Justice is committed to pursuing every option available to preserve and strengthen NEPA for the betterment of everyone.”

“NEPA matters,” said Tricia Cortez, Executive Director of the Rio Grande International Study Center. “Here on the border, we know what a world without NEPA looks like because of what we’ve experienced with the border wall. The U.S. government has waived NEPA and dozens of other federal laws to rush construction for a politically motivated and destructive wall project. We would not wish this on any other community in this country. The feeling is like having a train barreling at you with nothing to stop it. To protect our environment and our health, we the people must save NEPA.”

“We will not allow the Trump administration to compromise our rights to protect our communities and public health from the harms associated with unscrupulous and destructive industrial developments such as mining, oil and gas, and military operations,” said Pamela Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “This is a grave environmental injustice and we aim to prevent this attack on one of our most fundamental environmental laws.”

“We have consistently defeated this administration’s relentless, vicious dismantling of safeguards for people and the environment, and we will do so again for this critically important law,” said Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center co-counsel. “A thriving economy is not at odds with worker protections and a healthy environment – it depends on both.”

“The Trump administration picked the wrong fight,” said Kristen Boyles, an Earthjustice attorney serving as co-counsel on the case. “They want to make it easier to silence people’s voices and give polluters a free pass to bulldoze through our neighborhoods. That’s why we’re taking them to court.”

Contacts:

Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, 503-914-1323, gro.w1597075219alnre1597075219tsew@1597075219nworb1597075219

Liz Trotter, Earthjustice, 305-332-5395, gro.e1597075219citsu1597075219jhtra1597075219e@ret1597075219torte1597075219

Pamela Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, 907-308-1629, gro.n1597075219oitca1597075219ka@al1597075219emap1597075219

Dana Johnson, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 773-495-1677, gro.t1597075219caew@1597075219anad1597075219

Tricia Cortez, Rio Grande International Study Center, 956-319-4374, gro.c1597075219sigr@1597075219aicir1597075219t1597075219

Read what all 20+ clients on the case have to say about the importance of defending NEPA: https://earthjustice.org/documents/reference/nepa-ceq-rulemaking-lawsuit-quote-sheet

Read the complaint: https://westernlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020.07.29-CEQ-NEPA-Complaint.pdf

Additional Resources:

How “Freeway Revolts” Helped Create the People’s Environmental Law (Earthjustice)

6 Places Where the National Environmental Policy Act Made the Difference (Earthjustice)

Trump Wants to Undo the People’s Environmental Law (Earthjustice)

Protect the People’s Environmental Law (Earthjustice)