Biden restores environmental safeguards dropped by Trump

Included is a requirement that federal agencies evaluate projects’ impact on climate change

An Extinction Rebellion activist takes part in a protest in New York on Monday held to highlight government inaction on climate change. AFP

The administration of President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced it would restore safeguards in a cornerstone environmental law weakened under his predecessor, Donald Trump, including a duty to assess the climate impacts of proposed infrastructure projects.

The changes concern the National Environmental Policy Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1969. Rules about how it was applied were tweaked in 2020 by the Republican, an ardent supporter of the fossil fuel industry.

“Restoring these basic community safeguards will provide regulatory certainty, reduce conflict, and help ensure that projects get built right the first time,” Brenda Mallory, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement.

“Patching these holes in the environmental review process will help projects get built faster, be more resilient and provide greater benefits to people who live near by.”

Measures reinstated include a requirement that federal agencies evaluate both the direct and indirect environmental impacts of projects. This includes assessing effects on climate change and the consequences of releasing pollution in communities already affected by polluted air and water.