Success stories show why weakening the National Environmental Policy Act would harm America

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that government agencies understand the environmental, health, and other impacts of their actions before they spend our tax dollars, and that the American public be involved and informed. NEPA is designed to ensure that agencies analyze risks and alternatives, and make decisions based on the facts. NEPA studies have improved decision making, prevented many misguided and ill-informed actions, and saved untold numbers of American lives.

Unfortunately, NEPA is under attack by the Trump Administration and the Congress. Donald Trump recently called NEPA studies, “nonsense’, and is proposing to weaken NEPA protections.  These two articles provide a good snapshot of the challenges NEPA faces:

Conservatives pitch environmental rollbacks in highway package, E&E News (June 19)

To Speed Up Infrastructure Projects, Trump Revisits Environmental Regs, Governing (March 13)

NEPA is not ‘nonsense’. NEPA studies have led to better government decision-making that has protected our environment, prevented the Federal government from spending money on ill-conceived projects, and improved the health and safety of virtually every American citizen.  

While NEPA does not guarantee that agencies make the right choices, NEPA processes give them the information to make better decisions – and sometimes to avoid disaster.

Among the many NEPA success stories are the protection of radioactive wastes at Los Alamos National Laboratory from vulnerability to fire that could have spread radioactivity for hundreds of miles when a recent forest fire overran the lab, and the abandonment of a misguided plan to dredge a pristine lagoon – an action that would have cost over $100 million and damaged the lagoon it was intended to protect.

To learn more about the amazing success of the NEPA process, check out these stories.

Trump trashes environmental studies but they stave off disaster, The Hill

Never Eliminate Public Advice: NEPA Success Stories, NRDC 

NEPA Success Stories, Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Draft EPA plans indicate increased focus on freight transportation air pollution and public health

Image: East Bay Express

Freight transportation hubs such as ports and rail yards may be America’s biggest “black hole” in terms of environmental health, but that might change in the future.

Owners of most polluting facilities, such as power plants, petrochemical facilities, and factories have at least some limits placed on their ability to pollute the air their neighbors breathe, and in many cases, the EPA has taken action to improve regulations and oversight.

But most efforts to address goods movement public health have been less direct and less effective, at least in the short term. While the EPA has worked to require cleaner engines in locomotives and trucks, subsidize engine upgrades in sensitive locations, promote and assist in voluntary efforts, and in other ways, these efforts have not kept pace with the challenges facing overburdened port and rail yard communities.

Fortunately for the over thirteen million Americans who live in these neighborhoods and the tens of millions who live along highway freight corridors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been listening to overburdened communities, and is developing plans that may improve the lives of millions of people.

Yesterday, the EPA took steps to inform the public of two important draft plans that may bring relief to these communities and others, and to get public feedback.

First, EPA held a webinar on the final draft of the agency’s Environmental Justice (EJ) strategic plan.  Second, the agency released new draft guidance for incorporating environmental justice into regulatory analyses.  A summary of each follows:

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