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12 Climate Wins From the National Environmental Policy Act
Article

12 Climate Wins From the National Environmental Policy Act

Christy Goldfuss, Sally Hardin, and Marc Rehmann outline 12 court cases in which NEPA has pushed for courts to consider the environmental effects—specifically, greenhouse gas emissions—of their decisions.

In March 2017, President Donald Trump directed the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to rescind its previous guidance that showed federal agencies how to consider the effects of climate change in their decision-making. The Obama administration’s CEQ issued this climate guidance in 2016 in response to court decisions that determined that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) required agencies to calculate changes in carbon pollution that would result from major federal projects. Rescinding this guidance was typical of Trump’s pro-fossil fuel, anti-climate agenda, which has since included withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, and undermining common-sense clean car standards.

But now, more than two years and at least 12 court losses later, it’s clear: Rescinding the CEQ’s climate guidance was misguided, ineffective, and ironically counterproductive to the Trump administration’s professed “energy dominance” agenda. In their effort to cut through what they perceived as red tape, the Trump administration merely created more uncertainty in federal permitting for industry, which has ultimately slowed fossil fuel development across the country.

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Authors

Christy Goldfuss

Senior Vice President, Energy and Environment Policy

Sally Hardin

Director, Energy and Environment Advocacy

Marc Rehmann

Senior Campaign Manager, Law of the Land Project