President Waives Environmental Impact Reviews

by | Jun 23, 2020

Citing the economic “emergency” caused by the pandemic as a driving force, President Trump signed an executive order suspending environmental reviews and public comment periods for highways, pipelines, oil and gas projects, and other big infrastructure efforts, according to reporting in The Washington Post. But the administration’s attempts to gut one of the relevant laws, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), began in January, well before the pandemic froze most of the nation’s workplaces. Historically, communities of color most often bear the polluting brunt of such projects. “It shows again that they have no respect for the lives in these communities that are already overburdened,” Mustafa Santiago Ali, the Obama-era senior adviser for environmental justice at the EPA, told The Hill. “Trump’s actions put a spotlight on black lives don’t matter.” Status: The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the executive order, which the President signed on June 4, 2020. The Trump administration finalized the rule July 14, 2020.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.