By Lisa Friedman | The New York Times
The White House on Thursday introduced major changes to the nation’s benchmark environmental protection law, moving to ease approval of major energy and infrastructure projects without detailed environmental review or consideration of climate change.
Many of the changes to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every significant construction project in the country — had been long sought by the oil and gas industry as well as trade unions, which have argued that the review process is lengthy, cumbersome and used by environmental activists to drag out legal disputes and kill infrastructure projects.
Under the law, major federal projects like bridges, highways, pipelines or power plants that will have a significant impact on the environment require a review, or environmental impact statement, outlining potential consequences. The proposed new rules would narrow the range of projects that require such a review and impose strict new deadlines on completing assessments.