Act Now to Help Restore and Strengthen One of Our Bedrock Environmental Laws

Sep 20th, 2023 Written by Steve Bloch

The Biden administration is taking an important step to restore thoughtful, transparent, and efficient decision-making under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and your input can help get it over the finish line.

Signed into law in 1970, NEPA embodies our nation’s environmental conscience and is considered one of our bedrock environmental laws. With its passage, Congress issued a sweeping declaration of values and a call to action that highlights the protection of human health and the environment in all federal agency decision-making. NEPA instituted a national policy of “look before you leap” by requiring that agencies carefully analyze and disclose the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action. Critically for SUWA’s work, NEPA also guarantees that the public has an opportunity to participate in decision-making processes.

Please take action to ensure the administration gets the proposed NEPA revisions right.

NEPA touches nearly every aspect of our work. Without these strong regulations, SUWA would have been unable to:

  • Successfully challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decisions to sell hundreds of oil and gas leases for development after it failed to fully analyze and disclose the environmental impacts of those leases, as required by NEPA.

  • Overturn the BLM’s decision to chain and masticate tens of thousands of acres of piñon pine and juniper forests for livestock grazing in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The Trump administration significantly weakened NEPA by prioritizing pipelines, fossil fuel production, and road building over environmental and public health interests. Its rewriting of NEPA’s implementing regulations upended virtually every aspect of the law, leading to enormous public outcry.

In April 2022, the Biden administration finalized “Phase I” of its NEPA revisions, which reestablished and strengthened NEPA’s procedural requirements, undoing some of the Trump damage. Now, the administration is working on “Phase II” of its NEPA revisions, which respond to other aspects of Trump’s attack on the law.

It is critically important that the administration get its “Phase II” revisions right. Updated NEPA regulations mean stronger public health and environmental protections and guaranteed public participation in federal agency decision-making.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is accepting public comments through September 29, 2023. Please take the time to voice your support for the administration’s Phase II revisions.

You can learn about both the Biden and Trump NEPA revisions on our blog and in Episode 16 of our Wild Utah podcast.