Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong joined a multistate lawsuit
filed today challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful final rule curtailing requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that federal agencies review and assess the impact of their actions on the environment. The final rule also limits public participation in the review process, robbing vulnerable communities of the opportunity to make their voices heard on actions that are likely to have adverse environmental and health impacts. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the final rule abandons informed decision making, public participation, and environmental and public health protections in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and NEPA.
“This rule completely obliterates our bedrock environmental protections, allowing developers to push through major energy and infrastructure projects with no regard to science and environmental harm. This rule would gut public participation, completely ignoring the input of vulnerable and impacted communities. We will not allow the Trump Administration to silence science, facts, and our voices. This rule was pushed through with complete disregard for legal processes and procedures and by an entity with no statutory authority to make these sweeping changes. We join with states across the nation in asking the court to block this rule,” said Attorney General Tong.
“I voiced my opposition to these changes at the time the rule was open for public comment,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Now that the rule has been finalized, DEEP will join with other states to oppose the final rule as a natural extension of that effort. NEPA stands as a foundational tenet of environmental law. In addition to the technical environmental impact review of proposed federal actions, NEPA offers vital opportunity for transparency and public participation. I strongly oppose any effort to undermine its significance.”
Enacted in 1969, NEPA is one of the nation’s foremost environmental statutes. NEPA requires that before any federal agency undertakes “major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” it must consider the environmental impacts of the proposed actions, alternatives to the actions, and any available mitigation measures. Numerous federal actions, from the approval of significant energy and infrastructure projects to key decisions concerning the management of federal public lands, require compliance with NEPA.
On July 15, 2020, the Trump Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality announced a final rule upending the requirement that federal agencies comprehensively evaluate the impacts of their actions on the environment and public health. This will result in agencies taking actions without fully understanding the impacts of those actions on climate change, overburdened and underserved communities, water and air quality, and sensitive, threatened, and endangered wildlife. In addition, the final rule so severely limits NEPA’s public participation process that it threatens to render it a meaningless paperwork exercise.
In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the final rule violates NEPA and APA because it:
· Is contrary to NEPA’s language and purpose and exceeds the Council on Environmental Quality’s statutory authority;
· Is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law; and
· Was promulgated without preparing an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the rule’s environmental and public health impacts.
Attorney Tong joins the attorneys general of California, Washington, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Guam, as well as the City of New York, Harris County, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection in filing the lawsuit. The lawsuit is being led by the attorneys general of California and Washington.
This press release is made possible by: