April 30, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC - Today the Biden-Harris Administration announced finalization of its Phase II updates to the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which included reconciliation of changes that occurred as a result of passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy, with WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Irene Burga, Climate and Clean Air Program Director, with GreenLatinos responded as their organizations co-authored technical comments that were submitted to the Council on Environmental Quality on behalf of 88 community-based and environmental justice organizations:

“NEPA is this nation’s bedrock environmental law and an important procedural justice tool for the communities facing a myriad of large-scale infrastructure projects that have the potential to update our water, transportation, housing and energy systems. Frontline communities living in sacrifice zones near industrial facilities, highways, and other dangerous infrastructure experience cumulative exposure from the air pollutants, water pollutants, and soil pollutants from these projects, substantially putting families at risk for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, and even premature death. NEPA is the law that empowers our communities to speak out in opposition of harmful projects and break industry’s cycle of using our backyards as dumping grounds.

There has been a constant chipping away at the efficacy of NEPA in service to industry interests since its inception, including the Trump-era attacks in 2020 that this announcement addresses. In these Phase II updates, we are pleased to witness the reinstatement of many core implementation and compliance principles, as well as the inclusion of our recommendations for addressing environmental justice and climate change impacts in this implementation guidance as well as the inclusion of cumulative impacts. These principles, coupled with the $1 billion for NEPA implementation that was passed in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 as a result of our advocacy, can facilitate substantive and impartial environmental review and public engagement processes that center those who will be most impacted by large-scale Federal projects.

Finally, we urge Members of Congress to join the Biden-Harris Administration in prioritizing community voices and upholding the integrity of NEPA. These updated provisions represent a bipartisan effort and incorporate input from frontline groups, who are disproportionately impacted by permitting decisions. We implore Congress to reject any attempts to undermine these vital reforms through industry-influenced Congressional Review Act votes. It's time to prioritize the well-being of our communities and safeguard the essential protections provided by NEPA..” 

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