One of our most important tools in protecting Utah’s redrock wilderness is under unprecedented attack.
As you may have heard, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—our nation’s bedrock environmental law—is now in the Trump administration’s crosshairs.
The administration has proposed rolling back and significantly weakening NEPA, a move that “strike[s] at the heart of the public’s right to know what our government is doing or failing to do on our behalf and to speak to the lasting impact those actions might have,” as SUWA board member Sharon Buccino put it in The New York Times.
NEPA is the legal foundation for transparent protections of our environment and public health. It ensures that Federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), thoroughly analyze and disclose to the public the environmental impacts of a proposed action, and guarantees that relevant information is made available to the public so that they can play a role in the decision-making process.
Environmental reviews and public participation, required by NEPA, are one of the most important tools we have in the fight against climate change, and the proposed weakening of NEPA will make it easier to mine, drill, and chain our public lands.
Without the current NEPA protections, SUWA would have been unable to:
- Fight back against the Trump administration’s ill-conceived “energy dominance” agenda, including forcing the BLM to pullback its leasing decisions for more than 300,000 acres of public lands in Utah for oil and gas development and stopping the drilling of 175 natural gas wells along the canyon rims above the Desolation Canyon stretch of the Green River.
- Overturn the BLM’s decision to chain and masticate thousands of acres of piñon pine and juniper forests for livestock grazing in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
- Engage in the planning processes for the BLM’s unlawful Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments management plans, or the BLM’s push to open hundreds of miles of new roads for motorized travel in the San Rafael Desert.
NEPA is everything when it comes to protecting Utah’s red rock wilderness. If implemented, the Trump administration’s rollback of NEPA will, among other things, exclude climate considerations from NEPA reviews, restrict public input, and narrow the scope of NEPA reviews.
This attack on our nation’s bedrock environmental law is unprecedented. It is counter to everything we stand for as a democracy, and is a thinly-veiled attempt to make it easier for the Trump administration to rubber stamp development permits and entrench federal climate denial, without public participation or oversight.
SUWA and partner groups are submitting comments on the proposed rollback of this critical environmental law. We’ll let you know when your voice can make a difference.