Biden Admin’s NEPA Rule Takes a Step Forward on Environmental Justice, But Still Needs Improvement

In response to the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) releasing a notice of proposed rulemaking to update National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Evergreen Action Policy Lead for Energy Transition Mattea Mrkusic issued the following statement: 

“The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is America’s bedrock environmental law, guided by a founding purpose of upholding a ‘productive harmony’ between humans and nature. But we’re far from the ‘productive harmony’ that NEPA aims to protect. The climate crisis is here, now. 

“Wildfire smoke is blanketing our communities. Climate-fuelled heat waves are scorching the country. Hundreds of millions of Americans are affected every day by the climate crisis. Now more than ever, we need to rapidly build out a just, clean energy economy at a pace that confronts the most existential threat of our time. And we must do this in such a way that prevents increased harm to our communities, especially Frontline communities; ensures robust community consultation; and stops greenlighting more dirty fossil fuels. 

“We are particularly happy to see that the White House’s proposed Phase 2 NEPA rule directs agencies to consider environmental justice in reviews, and that it encourages federal agencies to institute measures that avoid or reduce disproportionate effects on communities, including cumulative impacts of pollution. Now, we urge the Biden administration’s Council on Environmental Quality to finalize the strongest rule possible to meet the moment the climate crisis demands.”