WASHINGTON—The Trump Administration announced today the finalization of a much-needed modernization of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Once the vanguard of environmental law, the 1970 act clashes with current scientific tenets and economic realities. Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Diane Katz offered the following response:
Five decades of NEPA experience have revealed its numerous flaws, including arbitrary standards, politicized enforcement, and protracted litigation. While the optimum policy option is repeal of the NEPA entirely, the Trump Administration’s reform of NEPA regulations will help to revive the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Establishing reasonable timelines for permitting, and streamlining the process of environmental assessments will reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers that otherwise inhibit investment, job creation and economic growth.
Among the most important reforms is clarification of the environmental “effects” that agencies must consider in a NEPA review. This new framework should help to prevent the time-consuming and costly analysis of speculative environmental impacts such as global warming that rely entirely on a convoluted causal chain.