The battle of the Administration of Donald Trump to eliminate environmental regulations in the united States wrote yesterday a new chapter with the announcement of important amendments to the law on environmental protection, which has been in force half a century. The changes announced reduce any of the requirements of the environmental studies for major infrastructure, which will speed up projects like mines, oil pipelines, gas pipelines or airports. The initiative is in addition to any other blows to the environmental regulation such as the trim to the limits on pollutants from cars.
The argument to weaken the federal standards is to accelerate projects that you can see stalled for years in the courts. “We want to build new roads, highways and bridges, bigger and faster,” said Trump. The decision “is going to eliminate bureaucracy that has crippled the decision making of common sense for a generation,” said secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who noted the “profound consequences of the inaction of the Government” by the environmental regulation and said that it is “the proposal of deregulation most important” of the presidency of Trump.
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The law (NEPA, for its acronym in English) was passed in 1970 in the first term of Richard Nixon, the first president to create a federal agency against pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Have barely been modified. This is the first substantial transformation of this regulatory framework that affects the whole project that has federal money. The plan is now in the phase of allegations; there are 60 days in which to submit arguments against it. Will surely be denounced in the courts if it were to enter into force.
In recent years, when the evidence of climate change has already reached a scientific consensus, almost unanimous, the courts have understood that the protections of the act do not only affect the environmental impact immediately, but it must be taken into account its contribution to emissions in the long term. With that framework, you have been able to stop or slow down in the courts, major projects of polluting industries, such as drilling on public lands, mines, and pipelines. The conflict best known was the oil pipeline Keystone Pipeline XL Canada, Illinois and Texas. The changes announced are aimed at breaking that connection between the projects and the climate change, which reduces the chance of opposition.
The change in the law expands the type of projects that are exempt from being examined with the criteria of the NEPA. The law will make it clear that environmental studies have not taken into account the “cumulative effects” of pollution, as it is dictating the law, which gives free reign to polluting industries to build respecting only the environmental impact immediately. In addition, it imposes a maximum period of two years for studies of detailed impact and a year to the most general. According to the Council on Environmental Quality —office of the Executive— a full assessment takes on average four and a half years and occupies some 600 pages. The various departments of the federal Government do about 170 studies of this type per year.
The policy of Donald Trump has been defined by the efforts to reverse completely the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. However, in some areas, such as foreign policy or the protection of the environment, are flying a consensus that there are from decades ago, regardless of the party that governs them. Trump began by putting to the front of the EPA to Scott Pruitt, who from the post of the prosecutor of Oklahoma had led a ferocious campaign against that same agency. His successor is Andrew Wheeler, a lawyer who has worked as a turned lobbyist against the regulations. Experts and the opposition have alleged that it is destroying the agency created by Nixon from the inside.
An analysis of The New York Times of December identified 95 proposals for deregulation in environmental Management Trump in these three years in office. Of them, 58 had already been completed, and 37 were in the process.
Among the decisions most important has been to relax the limits on pollutants from cars, as requested by the manufacturers, and to remove the exemption of California to set their own limits. In addition, it has removed the limits to the emissions of the coal industry, which has left its continuity in the hands of the States. Since it is not strategic to the US reduce coal as a source of energy. At the international level, Trump took US to the historic Paris Agreement which committed 196 countries to reduce their emissions.Updated Date: 10 January 2020, 05:00