White House revokes Trump order limiting climate change in federal reviews

The Trump (left) policy undone by Biden (right) aimed to prevent federal agencies from weighing climate change impacts in their decision-making around major projects like pipelines and highways.
The Trump (left) policy undone by Biden (right) aimed to prevent federal agencies from weighing climate change impacts in their decision-making around major projects like pipelines and highways.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Biden administration on Thursday (Feb 18) revoked a Trump administration policy that aimed to prevent federal agencies from weighing climate change impacts in their decision-making around major projects like pipelines and highways.

The White House Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) revoked the Trump administration's 2019 draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidance for greenhouse gas emissions, which had rolled back an Obama-era policy that required agencies to evaluate the climate change impacts of major infrastructure projects in their reviews.

"Today's action... will help federal agencies put their decisions on firmer legal and scientific footing," said Jomar Maldonado, associate director at the council, the agency that oversees the implementation of the NEPA across the government.

The Trump administration had said that limiting the consideration of climate impacts by agencies would result in faster and more efficient environmental reviews of energy and other projects required under the bedrock NEPA law.

But under the Biden administration, the council is expected to prioritise the impacts of climate change and weigh the burdens of projects on disadvantaged communities.

Brenda Mallory, who has been nominated to head the council, told Reuters last year that her focus would be undoing some of the changes made by Trump to how the NEPA is implemented and to strengthen the use of the law to better protect the environment and communities overburdened by air and water pollution.

"I am hoping at top of the priority list for CEQ is addressing changes Trump made to how CEQ implements NEPA," she said.

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